In the dead of night in 1976, the Abi-Najm family boarded a cargo ship bringing only what they could carry; an escape from Civil War in Lebanon called for a quick getaway. They traveled across the ocean to safety in Arlington, Virginia, where they were able to open a small cafe in 1979. To save money, they changed the eatery?s name from ?Athenian Taverna? to ?Lebanese Taverna? so that they only had to update one word on the eatery?s marquee.
From these modest beginnings grew a series of eateries that today comprises of six cafes and four quick-service caf?s, all still operated by the Abi-Najm clan. One look at the menu explains the success: chicken shawarma, spicy hummus, lamb tartare?all Lebanese staples that helped the restaurant earn a spot on Northern Virginia magazine's list of 25 Iconic Eats. There's even kibbeh, or stuffed meatballs, which blend ground beef, lamb, almonds, and pine nuts into fried spheres suitable for felling miniature bowling pins on top of the table before entrees arrive. The decor is as striking as the cuisine; inside the Bethesda location, light filters through the colored glass lanterns that decorate the dining room.
When the first Eggspectation eatery opened in Montreal in 1993, the concept was simple: upscale brunch with a focus on decadent egg and crepe dishes. The founding concept has been tweaked only slightly since then, with a menu that today includes more than 160 breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Breakfast remains the menu’s biggest draw, with a dozen egg benedicts and savory crepes, 16 omelets and fruity pancakes, plus french toast and waffles. At lunch and dinner, chefs stack plates with fine-dining-style entrees, such as half-pound USDA-choice beef burgers and steak and seafood entrees, such as maple-glazed rib eye or lump crab cakes. Whether at a location in Canada, the US, or India, patrons can slide behind a table amid rustic stone and brick walls flanked by jubilant circus-theme decor, such as colorful murals and paparazzi snapshots of Humpty Dumpty.
At the 1990 World Cup, soccer striker Roger Miller, also known as Roger Milla, earned international renown for scoring four goals, helping the Cameroonian team reach the quarterfinals. His accomplishment was particularly impressive because he achieved it at the age of 38, when most players have already retired their famed feet to the deep freezer.
Named for this legendary player, the small but vibrant Roger Miler Restaurant honors the flavors of the athlete's homeland with traditional Cameroonian dishes as well as other West African staples. Bright-orange walls and vivid art prints surround patrons as they enjoy dishes such as goat pepper soup and steamed catfish. Side orders of spinach, steamed rice, and Nigerian-style yam fufu accompany the seafood, grill, and vegetarian offerings.
Every morning at Ghar-E-Kabab, chefs Chandasar Ray and Chetnath Bhandari enact a delicate dance across the kitchen. Chef Ray pulls Indian and Nepalese spices from the spice rack for his simmering curry sauces. Meanwhile, Chef Bhandari alternates between fanning the flames of his earthen tandoor oven, and kneading batches of sweet naan dough, a traditional South Asian flat bread.
This daily ritual reflects the chefs? mission to uphold traditional cooking methods they mastered in their native India and Nepal. Chef Bhandari originally arrived in DC to work as a chef for the Royal Nepalese Embassy, and he brings his revered attention to detail to his own restaurant. The duo crafts every entree from scratch, from the fluffy breads to the creamy yogurt sauces. But although they strive to follow traditional recipes, they tweak them for health: meats marinate in olive oil, and only local, organic produce simmers in the tandoor oven.
Pronounced ?AH-beets,? Pete?s New Haven Style Apizza sets itself apart from more familiar pie prototypes with a crunchy yet chewy, stone oven-cooked crust. Combining their roots in fine dining with a dedication to fresh and simple Italian cuisine, Pete?s chefs make the gluten-free pizza crust in-house each day and top pies with savory sauce and locally-sourced toppings that are farm-fresh, organic, or made in house.
Pete?s menu also encompasses fresh pastas including homemade lasagna and spaghetti Bolognese. The fortress of feasting also offers a variety of draft and bottled beers, eclectic d?cor, and oven doors that bark out patrons? names when they walk through the door.
Each day at Fenton Cafe, Meaza Gabru swirls thin layers of batter on crepe makers in her open kitchen, creating delicate shells for sweet and savory fillings. She stuffs more than 40 different crepes with ingredients ranging from chocolaty nutella and fresh fruit to smoked turkey, cheese, and egg. In fact, her selection of crepes is so overwhelming that the The Voice recommended that locals visit weekly "until the entire menu has been devoured." Bold coffees and espresso drinks accompany Meaza's signature treats, which diners can savor on the outdoor patio or while sending a breakup text to their pancakes.