Some palates are intimidated by authentic Nepalese cuisine because the dishes are traditionally served on the summits of unscalable mountains and guarded by stomping super cows. Sample untrampled with today's deal: for $20, you get $40 worth of Nepalese and Indian cuisine and drinks at Kathmandu Spice in Arlington. Though this Groupon cannot be used with other offers, it can be used for the restaurant's popular lunch buffet ($9.95).
Once you've assembled your team inside Kathmandu Spice's marigold-and-cinnabar walls, begin to climb the menu from a base camp of vegetable ($6.25) or chicken ($6.75) momos (popular Himalayan dumplings) or khaja (flat rice, spicy potato salad, chicken sekuwa, and marinated soybeans, $7.25). There are so many appetizers that you could easily make a meal out of them, but you wouldn't have room for the must-try house specials. The dal, bhat and tarkari ($16.95)—a full meal of steamed rice, lentils, a vegetable dish, goat curry, spicy sauce, and dessert—lets you sample the staple diet of most of Nepal's population. Meat-minded appetites tear through roasted quail in chef's green sauce ($16.25), soft-shell crab in rich pepper fennel sauce ($18.95), or a bit of everything with the mixed grill sampler ($17.25). Vegetarians contemplate a buddha delight (fried cheese dumplings stuffed with raisins, cashews, and pistachio nuts in a cascade of creamy sauce, $12.25).
Everything at Kathmandu Spice washes down delightfully with Nepalese tea ($2.25) or a mango lassi ($3.95), and is best bookended by house-special naan bread ($4.50). Desserts such as sagarmatha rolls (bananas wrapped in a crispy roll and topped with ice cream and chocolate, $6.25) or cardamom-flavored custard garnished with caramel and whipped cream ($5.95) sweeten the meal. You can use one Groupon per table, so bring your mountaineer buddies to Kathmandu Spice and prove that you bear them no ill will for cutting you loose after their carelessly flung banana peel caused you to tumble down a crevasse.
Zagat ranks Kathmandu Spice in the "very good" category, and Yelpers give it four stars. Foodler users give it 4.5, and four TripAdvisors give it 3.5 owl eyes:
- Phenomenal South Asian food. The Nepalese brunch on Sunday is the best value in the area with AMAZING food. I tasted spices I've never had anywhere else. – John W., Yelp
- …the food is consistently fantastic and the family owners make you feel at home. Make sure to try the crunchy soybean appetizers and the lamb main courses. – hellothere, Zagat
- There was a depth and complexity to the spices that was neither overwhelming nor reticent -- almost like discovering the various flavors in wine as the meal progresses. – KatherineM62290, Zagat
The aromas at Basha Cafe—ginger, garlic, cardamom, and chili powder—might make it hard to wait for your meal. But the patient are rewarded with Ethiopian entrees featuring chicken, beef, lamb, or veggies, all attentively spiced and cooked. Grilled lamb cubes mingle with injera and gravy, red lentils ignite the palate with spicy flavor, and chicken in traditional berbere sauce arrives with herbed butter and boiled eggs.
Patrons can savor these flavors while they smoke hookah, languidly blowing smoke rings into the air or around their ring finger to give their boyfriend a subtle hint. On some nights, Basha Cafe also provides entertainment, captivating guests with live music and belly-dancing shows.
Slow-smoked meats and Mediterranean décor anchor the menu and atmosphere of Casbah Restaurant, a cozy eatery coupling Middle Eastern starters and small plates with robust entrees such as spiced kofte skewers grilled with almond couscous. Steeped in red-hued lighting and the glow from flat-screen TVs mounted on the wall, the dining room echoes with “live dinner tunes” pouring “from a small stage,” as reported by Thrillist.com. Top-shelf spirits tower over a marble bar equipped with tap handles that trigger a trap door under evil henchmen posing as innocent diners.
Flora serves beautifully presented American cuisine infused with French and Italian flavors by chef Bob Sargent and made using fresh vegetables and locally sourced ingredients. Flora's menu, like the direction of the wind or the guest on a morning talk-radio show, is subject to change, but recent enticing entrees have included petite lamb chops and slow-cooked shoulder of lamb ($26) as well as pan-crisped Giannone chicken, which is partnered with whipped potato, broccoli rabe, and truffle butter ($23). Enjoy baited bites of aquatic edibles such as Southern-fried fish, enhanced with a shrimp remoulade slaw and warm potato salad ($20), or New England seafood “bouillabaisse,” stocked with lobster, mussels, clams, and fish ($28). Each of flora's small plates includes a smattering of assorted bites, such as its tray of pickled-beet salad, smoked salmon, and creamy dill dressing ($13). Selfish meteorologists can frighten off tablemates with predictions of indoor thunder blizzards, then horde the precipitous palatability of chocolate cloud cake ($8) for dessert.
Jose's Mexican Restaurant is truly a family operation. At any given time, you might find mom in the kitchen making tamales; dad taking inventory; or brothers and cousins greeting visitors and waiting tables. That unshakeable familial structure stems from the restaurant's Mexican roots?roots that also instilled Jose's chefs with an appreciation for fresh, local ingredients and time-honored cooking traditions. Guests reap the benefits of Jose's solidarity while sipping on margaritas and biting into classic dishes, such as the tamales del dia, featuring a pair of tamales steamed in corn husks and packed with different fillings each day.
Guests can order from the traditional Szechuan menu at Little Q Hot Pot, but the real thrill of this cozy Arlington eatery is the dish that shares its name. Akin to fondue, the Chinese hot pot bubbles at the center of the table within an arm’s reach of guests ready to cook their own food or stage an all-shrimp revival of Macbeth. When ready, diners simply spear the protein of their choice—such as USDA prime rib, scallops, chicken, or even quail egg—and dip it in the piping hot chicken, seafood, veggie, or curry beef broth until its cooked to their liking. Vegetarians can partake as well by enjoying a bounty of fresh vegetables, including oyster mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and Chinese broccoli, alongside four kinds of noodles. Those not interested in DIY dining can opt for expected Chinese restaurant favorites, such as kung pao beef and sesame chicken or split several hearty orders of pan fried pork or steamed lamb dumplings.