I was very lucky to celebrate Mother's Day yesterday with my mom, and my 90 year old grandmother. I decided to take them to one of the most consistent restaurants in town: Zaytinya. I have been dining at the restaurant for years, and I must say that it is not only my favorite José Andrés restaurant, but it is one of my favorite spots in town that continues to deliver great food year after year.
The restaurant offers Turkish, Lebanese, and Greek small plates known as mezze, and on the weekends there are brunch items to choose from including eggs and french toast in addition to the full regular menu. I adore some of the inventive vegetable dishes, and can't get enough of the hot pillowy pita that they continue to dole out throughout the meal. Zaytinya recommends 2-3 plates per person, and sharing is encouraged. I have so many favorites after all of these years, but still like to try new dishes when they add seasonal specials to the menu. Below are descriptions of the dishes pictured above:
- Tzatziki and Butternut Squash Hummus: The tzatziki at Zaytinya is the best. I love the pieces of diced cucumber inside the thick Greek yogurt. I also was wild about the recent fall/winter butternut squash hummus they were offering. This is no longer on the menu, but the regular hummus does not disappoint.
- Ashta: This is not your traditional french toast. Instead, this french toast comes with bananas and is soaked in orange blossom honey. It hits just the right note of sweet, and is the perfect portion size.
- Seared Halloumi Cheese: This dish is served with medjool dates, slices of oranges, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and mint. I love the combination of flavors, and Halloumi has a great consistency which is firm yet chewy, with a kick of salt.
- Cilbir: These poached eggs are served with Greek yogurt over top of a piece of toast, and sprinkled with sumac and paprika. This dish is so colorful and beautiful, and tastes even better when the eggs are pierced and run all over the other elements of the dish. It's messy, but just scoop it up with a spoon, plop it on your plate, and enjoy!
- Spanikopita: A classic Greek dish of spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo dough.
- Garides Me Anitho: This is my favorite dish on the entire menu at Zaytinya. These shrimp are sauteed with lemon juice, dill and shallots making for a flavorful sauce. I love to dip the pita in the remaining juice and soak up all of the citrus.
I loved spending Mother's Day with my family in the beautiful blue and white atmosphere of Zaytinya while enjoying a great mix of mezze. But, I'm even happier to report that after 12 years of serving the DC food scene, the restaurant remains as great as ever.