At Fairouz Cafe, waiters ameliorate appetites with a menu of classic Middle Eastern dishes. Hummus bel-shawarma ($9.95) jump-starts eating engines with a serving of hummus topped by slices of beef and lamb, created by cracking a meat piñata over the plate. The chicken kebab platter unites marinated, boneless chicken cubes with rice ($11.95), and the falafel sandwich corrals fried chickpea patties into bellies ($5.95). Combo appetizer plates such as the yogurt salad with diced cucumbers ($3.50) or the shakshouky, an eggplant salad with diced tomatoes and pomegranate extract ($5.95), juxtapose simple ingredients to accentuate their flavor, much like PB&J sandwiches or barbershop quartets with one rapper. Escort meals to hunger-vanquishing glory on a cascade of nonalcoholic beverages such as juices and smoothies ($4.50) or a toasty pot of Turkish coffee ($3.95). During meals, diners can enjoy the smoky flavors of a hookah (not included with this Groupon), soak in live or DJed music, observe the sensual stylings of a belly dancer, or keep up with sports on wall-mounted televisions.
Inside The Salsa Room, Latin artists such as Marc Anthony, Oscar D'León, and Gilberto Santa Rosa croon to diners pouring over a menu of steak and seafood dishes. Drawing on influences from Latin America and the Caribbean, the club's chefs construct a menu bursting with spicy, flavorful ingredients like a piñata full of jalapeños. Chorizo adds a splash of flavor to breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes, creating taste-bud-tempting fare such as the house specialty guiso de garbanzos con chorizo—a blend of chickpeas, beef, and spanish chorizo in a tomato-based creole sauce. On Wednesday at 8 p.m., salsa and bachata dance instructors take to the floor to lead patrons in the rhythmic steps and sly glances that compose Latin choreography.
Named one of Northern Virginia's 25 Best Restaurants of 2007 by Northern Virginia Magazine, Eleventh Street Lounge impresses palates with a streamlined menu of small plates and innovative entrees suffused with organic ingredients. Dining duos can begin with the marcona almonds (a $6 value), plate of artisan cheeses (a $15 value), or pan-seared petite kalamata steak (a $14 value) served alongside a skewer of vegetables and nestled into a pillow of jasmine rice to dream of Kalamata's olive-oil rivers. Entrees expand dish diameters with succulent selections such as the peppery tuna steak anointed in five spices (a $17 value) and the petite tenderloin medallions, grilled and served with fried potatoes and mixed greens (a $15–$20 value).
Specializing in petite, densely packed Andean-style tapas, Guarapo has a zest-injected menu of Latin dinner fare. Meal preambles include the chifles, guac-dotted homemade plantain chips ($6) and the beef, chicken, or cheese-filled baked potato cakes of the papa rellena ($7). Small plates such as the chicharron de cerdo, which features crispy pork on mote corn with onion salsa criolla ($8), or the garlic-sautéed jumbo shrimp of the gambas al ajillo ($10) disprove the conventional wisdom that dinner is best served in a pony keg. Dishes prepared in the ceviche style harness the mysterious power of citrus, with results including the wasibi-graced yellowfin that anchors the atun ($10). Entrees such as the veggie-laden steak known as the lomo saltado ($17) or the arroz con mariscos, with its shrimp, mussels, and calamari ($17), can find their liquid counterparts in traditional Latin drinks like an apple mojito ($10).
Charcoal-heated grills sear hearty kebabs of halal meats at Afghan Kabob House, flooding the restaurant with the scents of roasting chicken, lamb, and beef. To accompany the skewers, cooks toss together leafy salads, bake pillowy naan in a tandoor-style oven, and unite seasoned rice with saffron or carrots and raisins. The menu also boasts 20 different flavors of shisha for its hookahs, which encourage diners to lounge around after their meal and practice forming the perfect ring or Möbius strip out of smoke.