Zaytinya: Eastern Mediterranean mezze in Washington DC

Zaytinya is Jose Andres’s Eastern Mediterranean mezze restaurant located in DC’s Penn Quarter in the heart of the city. I went there with a friend and we were a bit worried that we’d have to queue for a while to get a table because this restaurant has a massive reputation, but we must have been just ahead of the rush and managed to get a table straight away.

We were brought a little basket of pitta breads with a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to start and my goodness they were the softest little pillows of warm deliciousness that I have ever tasted! If this was a taste of what was to come then we were in for a real treat!

A highlight for me was the labneh, a strained, sour yoghurt with za’atar, a middle eastern spice/seasoning, best ordered with house-made lavash chips seasoned with sumac and salt. Another was the seared halloumi with dates, pomegranate and orange. The combination of that thick, soft halloumi with the sweet dates and pomegranate seeds, the fresh citrus of the orange and then the sharp intensity of the pomegranate molasses just blew me away.

We also enjoyed the peynirli pide, a flatbread topped with tomato sauce seasoned with cinnamon and finished with a generous layer of halloumi and mozzarella. The shish taouk chicken skewers were delicious too and beautifully seasoned.

I can’t recommend Zaytinya highly enough – the food was exceptional and the service was fantastic. A must if you’re in the city. Next time I’m in DC I’ll have to try some of Jose Andres’s other restaurants – I’ve heard great things about Jaleo and Oyamel so watch this space!

Want some more recommendations for Washington DC? Read my post about some of the great places to eat in DC and there are more posts to come!

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