Judging Restaurants – Lebanese Taverna


Lebanese Taverna is located at 2641 Connecticut Ave. in Woodley Park. I’ve never heard so many contradictory things about a restaurant in DC before. Some folks tell me they love it and some folks tell me it is overrated. So let’s settle it once and for all – thumbs up or down? But if there are fans out there, do you recommend a particular dish? You can see their menu here.

31 Comment

  • I’ve eaten here twice (once with family and once on a terrible date) and neither time impressed me. I don’t know if its that i don’t like Lebanese food or i don’t like it here since I haven’t had it anywhere else. Everything i ordered seemed pretty bland and sort of meh.

  • Definitely good food — and my family is from Lebanon — but I think the price is too high. They catered a party for me last spring and after visiting two of the restaurant’s locations (Woodley Park and Pentagon City) and a full day’s worth of phone calls, nobody could give me a straight answer on where/how to order. I stuck with it, because I knew my family would enjoy the food, if they couldn’t at least prepare the kebabs and tabouleh themselves. When we finally got it sorted out, it ended up costing far more than I originally anticipated for barely enough food to feed my 30 guests.

    In sum: Choose another caterer, but definitely stop by for lunch or dinner.

  • It’s fine. I wouldn’t think it would raise that many contradictory opinions; I’ve never met anyone that felt strongly about the place. For contradictory opinions, look no further than Pasta Mia. 🙂

  • I’ve always been pretty pleased with this place. A friend of mine in Arlington always used to drop by the location out there and buy a few pints of couscous, dolmades, and the like. A pretty cheap, tasty dinner for several.

  • I have to be in the right mood for Lebanese Taverna, or it isn’t very enjoyable. For some reason this happens more often at the Pentagon City location. But that’s a legitimate DC institution.

  • saf

    It used to be much better than it is. In my opinion, they have expanded beyond their capacity to maintain the high quality that they used to have.

    Still ok though.

  • I think some people can’t get past the fact that it’s a chain (small though it may be) so they automatically have a more critical view of it. That and it’s popular. My Lebanese friends think it’s legit, though, and so do I. I agree that the price point is slightly higher than I would like to pay, but I still go on occasion.

  • The ones in Westover and Woodley Park are great. I’ve always enjoyed the food.

  • The way I can best put it is that my wife and I went there, we were very excited, the menu looked fascinating, the ambiance was wonderful, we ordered several dishes we had never tried before and they weren’t good at all.

  • Specifically I remember myself ordering:
    “FATTEH BEL BATHENJAN| eggplant and chickpeas, topped with toasted lebanese bread, smothered with warm yogurt and sauteed pine nuts garnished with pomegranate seeds, when in season”

    And the bread it was topped with was not toasted and within 30 seconds became a gummy soggy mess where I had to push the gloppy bread balls to the side of my plate. I might have the item wrong, but I believe that’s correct.

  • saf nailed it. It used to be really tasty stuff, but now it’s just alright. The LT in Pentagon Row is ridiculously expensive. $7 for a tiny saucer of hummus? It’s friggin chickpeas and tahini! Much better food can be had at Lebanese Butcher or any number of middle eastern establishments.

  • I’ve had good meals and bad meals there, and the service has ranged from excellent to horrible. Like others have mentioned, the place seems to be on a gradual decline. Five years ago, I would have called it one of my favorite restaurants in D.C. But today? Not even close.

  • I enjoyed the food when I ate there last weekend. It was great to sit outside, finally! However, there seemed to be only one person serving the entire outside area and she disappeared for a good hour during the course of the meal. Terrible service, but girlfriend and I figured that something had happened and somebody got sick. I’d try again.

  • The Woodley Park location has seriously deteriorated over the past 2-3 years – both in terms of food quality and service. The location in Pentagon City is wonderful!

  • Go to Mama Ayesha’s around the corner. You won’t be disappointed!

  • I’m certain anytime you’ve ever asked about a restaurant in these here inter-pages you have gotten some positives, some negatives, some mehs, and some overrateds. Arguing about restaurants is our favorite thing to do, after arguing about gentrification, of course.

  • im with K. the taverna is ok. But with Mamas right accross the bridge. there is absolutly no reason to go to taverna. Mamas food is better. service is WAY better. its intimate. family owned for decades. and the ambiance is incredible. I am glad the taverna is there though if not to just attract the tourists staying at the marriot and the omni so they dont stumble into mamas.

  • Isn’t Mama’s Ethiopian food?

  • saf

    Mama’s is Lebanese.

    I still go to both places because:
    Mama’s makes this really good chicken on pita thing that nobody else makes.
    Taverna makes this chicken on pita with yogurt thing, and this garlic sauce, that nobody else makes.

  • I’ve only been to LT once so I can’t say whether there has been a decline in the past few years. I thought the Fateh bil Butanjun was delicious.

    But I have to give some love to my Middle Eastern restaurant of choice – Al-Khartoum over at Florida and 18th. They’re trying to diversify with a pizza business these days and that scares me but for my money, there’s no better place for food from the Arab world in the District.

  • Been to three of them and have to say it is pretty darn good. The camel wings rock!

  • Hey wow, all these years I thought Mama A’s was Ethiopian. Huh.

  • I think the food is far better at the Woodley location (and maybe the Pentagon City one, it’s been awhile) than the smaller offshoots in the burbs. I went to the Woodley LT the other day and enjoyed the fattoush and baby eggplant, although I could have done without the spinach “lebanese style pizza.” I was also a bit disappointed with the pita bread, but overall it was very tasty and I’m looking forward to trying out Mama Ayesha’s to compare!

  • Nobody wants Mama Ayesha’s to be be a successful alternative more than I do, but I’ve personally been served some really subpar meals there. We still patronize it because it’s convenient and pleasant to sit in. I have never, ever had a decent glass of wine at Mama Ayesha’s though. If you go to Lebanese Taverna, try the lemonade.

  • saf

    Sorry Pennywise. And the fact that it’s Lebanese and was at one time (when it still looked like a diner inside and Mama was still alive) the only Lebanese place (EXOTIC! FOREIGN!) in the area is why Helen Thomas (of Lebanese descent) hangs out there.

  • The very first meal I ever had in the area when I moved here in summer 04 was at the one in Silver Spring. I was actually excited to eat there because it looked good. I don’t remember the particulars anymore, but I do remember thinking I will never go back, and I haven’t.

  • technically, i think Mama Ayesha’s is Syrian, but there’s no real difference food-wise.

  • Not a fan — I agree w/others who have said the Woodley Park location has gone downhill.

    If I were in Woodley Park, I’d go around the corner to the Afghan Grill or walk a little farther to Mama Ayesha’s.

  • The LT Market in north arlington is not bad – it is more of a market/takeout place (no tables), and serves that purpose well; everything from there has always been fresh and pretty good, if not world-beating. Basics like shwarma are pretty reliable, hummus is six bucks a pound instead of six bucks an ounce, and the garlic sauce is great.

  • ALWAYS the most popular restaurant in Woodley Park. I enjoyed dining outdoors here.

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