Dinner at Zaytinya

Washington DC has so many great restaurants maybe not as much as New York but it’s pretty close. The only reason I don’t get to eat in DC as much as I want to is I stay in Virginia with my cousin and it’s not as easy to go to DC at night without driving and needing a babysitter for my cousin’s kids.

On this day I went to DC with La and had lunch at Rasika and spent the day at Le Pain Quotidien, Cowgirl Creamery and waited at Chinatown Coffee until 5:00 pm when I walked to my other cousin, Sha’s office. We went to the very popular Zaytinya, modern Greek/Mediterranean tapas restaurant owned by the famous chef Jose Andres.

Filipinos and Asians are familiar with Jose Andres through his tv show, Made in Spain with Jose Andres, shown on Asian Food Channel on cable tv.

Zaytinya means olive oil in Turkish.

We feature modern interpretations of the traditional cuisines of Greece, Turkey and Lebanon, served in small-plate style. from their website

Sha was able to get a reservation at 5:30 pm that’s why the place was almost empty when we arrived. We had no choice since that was the only time available for this extremely popular restaurant.


Spit roasted lamb

I found this picture on the menu on their website. Jose Andres, you are right! Your food has changed my life and I’ll never look at Eastern Mediterranean food the same way again. There is so much more shawarma, shish kebab and hummus.
Zaytinya Jose Andres.55 PM  Mar 25
picture from Zatinya

There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to order but there were only two of us. I suggest coming here with more friends so you can try more small dishes. But I’m proud to say we ordered and ate a lot!
Zaytinya specials menu
specials menu


All the dishes were served mezze style or in small plates meant for sharing. It was perfect for the two of us. We were able to order several dishes  to try.

The brussels sprouts were just ok for me. It wasn’t  as crispy as I expected. However the garlic yogurt sauce delicious. It wasn’t too garlicky and it was tangy and creamy. Typical with Mediterranean cooking a lot of yogurt was used in their sauces.

crispy brussel afelia $8.50
crispy brussel afelia $8.50

Simply fried fresh mussels served with walnut tartar sauce. I’ve never tried fried mussels before. Usually it’s calamari, shrimp or even clams that are fried. Fried mussels are a good thing. A very good thing.
midyes $7.50
midyes $7.50

Check out the pistachio bits in the middle. It added a nice crunch to the tender mussels and complemented the walnut tartar sauce.
midyes $7.50-001

I wanted to order the seasonal mushrooms with dates and toasted almonds but our waiter suggested the mushroom saganaki which was the seasonal mushrooms amped up with Metaxa brandy, tomato and kefalograviera cheese.

These were different from any mushroom preparation I’ve ever eaten. The mushrooms were yummy and a bit sour and tangy. Eaten with a piece of nutty, salty fried cheese balanced all the flavors in your mouth. Definitely umami.
mushroom saganaki $11
mushroom saganaki $11

Sharon’s favorite was the grilled grass-fed veal breast on butter lettuce with lemon and tzatziki. The veal breast so so flavorful and tender and it literally melted in our mouths. The veal was buttery, milky with a subtle smokey flavor.

Our very knowledgable waiter told me that the veal was cooked three ways. First it was seared then cooked sous vide (meat placed in a plastic bag and cooked in a water bath for 72 hours) then grilled. No wonder!!!
moshar souvlaki (veal breast) $10
moshar souvlaki (veal breast) $10

My favorite was the lamb kleftico made with spit-roasted lamb (pictured above), house-made phyllo, feta cheese and dill yogurt.  The lamb was indescribably wonderful.  The meat was so fragrant and the quality and flavor of the lamb was the star of the dish.  It didn’t need any fancy spices or sauces. It tasted 100x better than the best shawarma I’ve ever eaten. Every bite I took I closed my eyes and said “sh#t sarap.”
lamb kleftico $12
lamb kleftico $12

The scallops were seared and served with yogurt dill sauce. So simple but freaking fantastic. The scallops were perfectly cooked and not one second over. It was so succulent and the smell alone could make you swoon. The sauce was a good touch but it wasn’t really necessary.
sea scallops $12
sea scallops $12

To give you an idea how big the scallops were, that’s my 46mm lens cap beside it.
sea scallops $12-001

There’s nothing wrong with my camera’s white balance or the restaurant’s lighting. That’s really what Sha looks like after a glass of wine.

Zaytinya dessert menu
dessert menu

I really wanted to order Turkish coffee of Jose’s Counter Culture blend coffee but I already had my coffee quota for the day.
Zaytinya coffee and tea menu
coffee and tea menu

There’s always a reserved compartment in my stomach just for dessert. All I can say is thank you for mezze dessert. These small desserts pack a punch. Both were utterly delightful.

Since I couldn’t have coffee I did the next best thing by ordering Turkish coffee chocolate which was warm chocolate cake, bittersweet chocolate flan, cardamom espuma and espresso syrup. This dessert fed all my desire for chocolate and coffee. Just a bite and I was happy and satisfied. But then it was silly not to finish the rest, right?
Turkish coffee chocolate
Turkish coffee chocolate $4

I’m not a big fan of ice cream. In fact I can go for a long, long time without it. I can’t say the same for cookies and chocolate though. But since the waiter suggested we try this we ordered a mezze portion to share.

Turkish Delight was made with walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelee, orange-caramel sauce and caramelized pine nuts. All the meticulously made components made the unique walnut ice cream into an extraordinary dessert. This dessert was sheer genius. I was seriously tempted to lick the plate clean.
Turkish delight
Turkish delight $4

Turkish delight

Every dollar of Sharon’s money was well spent. I will never forget this fabulous meal. Thanks Sha!!!

I just had to include the pictures of their bathroom. This is something you will NEVER EVER see in the Philippines whether in hotels or expensive restaurants. Siguradong ninakaw na kasi.
Zaytinya's bathroom

Zaytinya's bathroom-002

Aren’t the hooks beside the sink a great idea?
Zaytinya's bathroom-001

Sha and I took a self portrait on the huge mirror outside the rest rooms.

By the time we left at 7:00 pm the place was packed. No wonder our plates were cleared super fast. As soon as we cleaned out a plate it was gone. Fast as lightning.


Some Jose Andres merchandise before you leave?

If you’re planning to go to Washington DC this summer (Manila time), live near DC, work in DC or even if you live in another state, you MUST try Zaytinya once in your life. The food is cooked simply but somehow they manage to make everything taste so good it makes you wonder if everything you’ve eaten before was cooked wrong. It’s like “lamb, scallops, veal, etc don’t taste like this!”

Next time I go back to DC I want to try the other restaurants under Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup which includes  Jaleo,  Oyamel, America Eats Tavern and the (impossible to get a reservation) minibar by josé andrés.

701 9th Street Northwest Washington, DC 20001
telephone: (202) 638-0800

6 thoughts on “Dinner at Zaytinya

  1. the fried mussels and that mushroom dish with dates look and sound so interesting! and i died when i saw those giant scallops! haha!


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