Image: Lamb and Sprouts
Last Updated: June 2022
Current Status: Open for sit-down service inside and a large outdoor seating area out front. Take-out and Delivery also available.
For years, Zaytinya has managed to produce very good food on an grand scale. The giant, two-story windows surround an open space that seats hundreds. Inside, dozens of small plate options are served drawing on the cuisine of Greece, Turkey, and the Levant. The menu has remained pretty stable over the years, with mezze standards like hummus, fatoush to start, and vegetable, fish and meat options to anchor the meal. Stand-out dishes like the Brussels sprouts with a honey-lemon yogurt sauce remain fixtures. Like other small plates places, the dishes come out of the kitchen when ready. The meal starts with thin pita loafs that are piping-hot puffy pillows to be torn and dipped in oil olive oil or other spreads. Then the plates multiply and spread. They are passed and cleared only to be supplanted with more, until they dwindle and the conversation continues over last bites and the end of a bottle.
The wine list has remained resolutely committed to the wines of the region, even when that means wines-by-the-glass with eye-popping acidity and flavor profiles slightly off from traditional crowd-pleasers. Which is to say that it is interesting and fun to explore. José Andrés restaurants have always done well finding bartenders who can keep up with the pace, and the long bar at Zaytinya is no exception.
All these years later, it remains a packed house because it still delivers quality and fun consistently, good for large groups or date nights. It is also still one of the best options in Penn Quarter.
Other Guidance: The place is casual and bustling, but the dressed up date night couple is not out of place. GF and vegetarians can do well here. The restaurant is on the first floor, but steps or the swooping ramp are required to enter.
Gift Cards – Good at all places in the restaurant group.
Washington Post: Tom gave it 2.5 stars in 2106 and included it in the Fall Dining Guide.