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Fearless Critic restaurant review
DC
Food
Feel
Price
6.3
7.0
$20
Middle Eastern, Greek
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Sat 11:00am–10:30pm
Sun 11:00am–9:30pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted

Website

Adams Morgan
1829 Columbia Rd. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 745-7495

Arlington, VA
2300 N. Pershing Dr.
Arlington, VA
(703) 465-2306
Astor Mediterranean
Family-friendly falafel and Egyptian pizza from a friendly family

Smashed between high-end restaurants, dollar shops, and the mishmash of people that is Adams Morgan, Astor Mediterranean is a pleasing blend of all of its neighbors. The little storefront is neon-bright, a spot of harsh but homey light on a dim street. A lone chalkboard sign loiters casually by the door, advertising the Egyptian pizza in a friendly, neighborly manner. Marvelous whiffs of spicing and baking and frying beckon unsuspecting pedestrians toward the light. (The Arlington branch is somewhat less evocative.)

The inside of Astor Mediterranean is cheap but clean. Red walls are lined with family pictures of promisingly fat babies, and coolers buzz along with the rest of the noise. There is a general low roar of familial noise. In fact, with the refrigerator cases with big bowls of pre-made food and the snap and sizzle of fryers and grills behind the counter, Astor Mediterranean feels more like a family-run greasy spoon than anything else.

Like the décor, the food at Astor is charming but unspectacular. Those whose hearts are swayed by big portions of homey-looking food will be pleased. Egyptian pizza is garlicky and strong with such formidable toppings that you must race against the clock to finish the pie before the overwhelmed dough gets soggy. A huge mezze platter includes acidic, chunky baba ghanoush that is quite good, tangy stewed eggplant, and paprika-smoky hummus. One of the winners at Astor is the falafel, which is singularly crisp, with plump, herby breading that is coarse and light and thoroughly delicious—it’s almost like eating a rice cracker.

Meats from various kabob versions are less exciting. Chicken is citrusy and nicely flavored, but finicky. It reminds you that chicken is not the best meat for kabob. The more traditional ground lamb tends to have a very strong “lamby” flavor, which we like. But dry, chewy beef kebabs have been overcooked. And some misguided wise guy decided to use puff pastry instead of phyllo in the spanikopita, leading to a very wrong entity that is all butter and no olive oil.

Still, at Astor, very nice people will feed you very unpretentious Middle Eastern food, and that in itself is worth a visit. As you sip on sweet and strong hibiscus water and nibble at your heaping plate of food, you’ll feel yourself melting into the neighborhood. It’s a good feeling.

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