Summer has been glorious: relaxing and rejuvenating. I spent my Fourth of July weekend amidst the crowds of people celebrating in the nation’s capital. Fireworks haloed the Washington Monument- it was truly a memory for the long run. Over the past few years, Washington DC has become a common destination for last minute trips and vacations in my family. Therefore, it’s essential that I have a list of accommodating restaurants at the back of my hand.
We normally reside in a hotel with close proximity to the mall. This allows us the freedom to walk to the main attractions and center city. Zaytinya is conveniently located on 9th and G Streets, just a few minutes walk away from the mall. The Turkish-Greek cuisine is exquisite- I would go as far as calling it my favorite restaurant in Washington DC. The ambiance is wonderful both inside and outside. If you’re seated inside, do take note of the fascinating shaped olive oil jars. And if you’re outside, while enjoying the fresh air, notice that the umbrellas are upside-down. It may be my lack of exposure or taste for a more modern and sleek setting that I find these nuances so amusing. However, the restaurant, food, and service are simply wonderful.
I could rave about this restaurant and its originality for days, but let’s get to the exciting part- food. Zaytinya recently started offering a gluten-free menu much to my delight. They serve mezzes which are sort of the Greek or Mediterranean equivalent of tapas, based on my understanding. However, in addition to the gluten-free mezzes listed on the menu, I have typically been able to request other dished to be prepared gluten-free. Over the culmination of all my ventures to Zaytinya, I have found the grape-leave dolmades, seasonal mushrooms, and shish tauok are my favorites. However, dessert is a whole separate matter. The dessert selection at Zaytinya is heavenly. If you don’t have time to enjoy a full meal at this restaurant, it is absolutely worth your time to stop in for a sweet treat. The greek yogurt and apricots and most of the homemade ice creams and sorbets are gluten-free. Additionally, the turkish delight can be modified to those following a gluten-free diet, and the cheeses, of course, are gluten-free! I am a yogurt phanatic. Whether its greek or vanilla, key lime or served with honey, yogurt has always been a favorite snack of mine. But this greek yogurt was the “mother of all Chobanis and Fages” as my dad put it. I honestly couldn’t have said it any better myself. As for the ice creams: if you have a sweet tooth for exotic flavors this one is for you. The flavors consist of vanilla with phyllo dough, rose, olive oil, and walnut. The walnut is the ice cream used in the turkish delight, and I would definitely vouch for it. The olive oil ice cream is just something to taste for the sake of curiosity and adventure. Last but not least, cheese. I have always had the urge to order cheese as a dessert in a restaurant, but my parents typically discouraged it. However, this time they surprised me. They suggested I try a new type of cheese, so I did just that (how obedient, right?). The Tulum Peynir was a rather rich cheese with a bold flavor, but I was in heaven. It was served with honeycomb, which was a new texture for me. Anyhow, the combination of the Turkish cheese and honeycomb was delicious.
So if you’re in DC and looking for some good food, even if it is a trek, I would highly recommend Zaytinya.