Tina Visits Tabaq


A few months ago PoP asked for some opinions on Tabaq Bistrolocated at 1336 U Street. A few people proclaimed love for Tabaq and a few, contempt. I’ve only eaten here a handful of times, but I’ve always sort of fallen somewhere in the middle. I like it, and I always have a pretty good experience, but I never really feel blown away. In discussing with a friend the other day we decided that although we both like Tabaq, it tends to leave both of us feeling sort of whelmed. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed, just, whelmed.

Most recently I was at Tabaq for a friend’s birthday party (Happy Birthday L!), which was lovely, and maybe one of the best experiences I have had there. There were about 30 of us, and we were able to reserve the downstairs room, “The Red Lounge.” I was not in charge of making reservations, but from what I understand the process was really simple and the restaurant was easy to work with and very accommodating of our plans. The space was perfect for the event, and our server, despite only being two weeks into the job, was great.


And speaking of servers, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they have had awful service at Tabaq; long waits, rude wait staff, screwed up orders. With that, I have to strongly disagree. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but in my visits to Tabaq I have never had bad service. I’ve only ever gone there with a reservation, but I have never had to wait longer than ten minutes for my table to be ready, I’ve always had a pretty attentive server and I’ve never received the wrong order from the kitchen.

As far as the food goes, in the past I have always opted to order a couple of small plates for my meal. They are, in my opinion, kind of hit or miss and some are way better than others. The prices are fairly reasonable, though I do feel that some of the more expensive small plates are a little too small for the price you pay. Most are between $5 and $10, with a few fancier items, like baby octopus, seafood risotto (which I really like) and a charcuterie plate reaching into the $11-$15 range. Continues after the jump.

This time I decided to skip the small plates try out one of the main dishes, the Adana Kebab. This, I actually thought, was excellent. The meat was tender and flavorful and the portion was definitely appropriately sized for the price. This was probably the best meal I have enjoyed at Tabaq, and better than any of the small dishes I have ever had there. There is, however, a chance that my delight in this meal may be due in part to the fact that I have been subsisting on a diet very heavy in beans, pasta and tuna fish lately. But anyway, it was really good, I ate every last bite, and I would most certainly order it again. Though this particular dish was a hit for me, a friend ordered the Tabaq Chicken, which, though beautifully presented and tasty enough, again left me feeling sort of, well, whelmed.


So, all in all, I give this place a thumbs up. Take that for what you will, as I do not in any way claim to be a “foodie,” or experienced in the art of fine dining. I mean, my favorite restaurant of all time is Pollo Sabroso. So, maybe I have no idea what I am talking about, or maybe I’ve just been fortunate to have always hit it on a good night. Either way, Tabaq will stay among my list of restaurants to visit when I have a few extra bucks to spend, or when I want to impress an out of towner with some pretty views of the city.

13 Comment

  • I’ve enjoyed Tabaq before for mimosas or tapas, but after my most recent experience there I will never return.

    I was recently at Tabaq with a large group (about 25 or so people), and Tabaq assigned one waiter to us. For starters, the service was obviously terrible- they were well staffed and should have had a few more people taking care of our group.

    In addition to the bad service (it took me about 25 minutes to get ONE beer, and that was ALL I ordered), they threw away at least one person’s to-go container without any reimbursement.

    With a group that large, we knew we would end up being a little short once everyone had put in their $, but the organizer of the group was willing to pay the remainder out of her pocket. Once everyone had put in for the check, we were only $30 short.

    After collecting our cash and credit card slips, the waiter, however, said we were $70.00 short. He brought the cash back to the table, but it was less than we had given him. He then put a final receipt on the table telling us we were $181.76 short.
    (This is after the waiter asked us what 13 minus five was and later, when trying to come to a resolution, said he would pay $50 if we paid $117.00, which doesn’t even add up to the total of the bill under question).

    The organizer of the group waited for them to fix their error, and while she was waiting, they CALLED 911 and claimed she was stealing!!! She was there for three hours with two police officers threatening to throw her in jail for theft if she didn’t pay for a bill I knew was wrong. Whether money was stolen or misplaced by the staff, the error was on them.

    In total- bad service, harassed by employees and police– I don’t recommend tabaq to anyone wanting to have an enjoyable evening.

  • You can only be whelmed in Europe.

  • Anon 12:06 should get an award for worst restaurant experience ever. Cripes that would tick me off.

  • I took some out of town guests there a year or two back. The view from the top floor was cool. Food was okay I suppose. Does not measure up to the mezza or tapas at Zaytina or Jaleo, as much as the celb mega chef thing annoys me.

  • I would like to second the first comment left…

    I went to tabaq recently with a large group as well. first, they forced us to order off of the restaurant week menu rather than the tapas menu (which, as restaurant week tends to be, was BAD). Then, they didn’t inform us they would be only accepting one form of payment for our very large group…you would think they would at least let us know at the outset that we couldn’t pay with multiple credit cards since it didn’t state anywhere on the menu that only one credit card would be accepted.

    I ordered the lamb kabob and it was terrible. It was chewy and dry and had no flavor.

    It took FOREVER to just get water – they claimed they had no clean glasses. I too had an experience where one of the individuals asked for her meal to be wrapped up to go but was instead thrown away and she was not reimbursed…nor did they show ANY sympathy…

    Not to mention, that the owner repeatedly put his hands on one of my friends, openly flirting with her, and making us all feel incredibly uncomfortable. However, at the end of the meal when we had complaints about the service, one check, thrown away meal…he was nowhere to be seen.

    And even with the one check, there were obvious accounting errors…drinks counted more than once…other items erroneously placed on the bill.

    I will never go back and I’d encourage the same from others. In fact, we’ve complained quite frequently to the restaurant since this incident and let them know we’d be placing several unkind reviews…so I’m a little skeptical that the review above is even a genuine one.

  • Yeah, I’m whelmed with the place as well.

    I love their rooftop deck, it’s a nice place for brunch (which I went to after PoP readers suggested) or drinks. The dinner food and service I could do without. I love the vibe there, though, so it is a shame that the food and service isn’t better.

  • Well it sounds like sometimes they are okay and sometimes they explode into utter chaos. Not unheard of in the eatery world, unfortunately. Given the comments here I say I’d avoid Tabaq or I’d only go with a small group and we’d double check the bill carefully!

  • I’ve had terrible service with a large group there too. The view of the city from the top floor is nice though…its as good as the view from 13th above Florida.

  • went for brunch once….once..and never again..after being seated upstairs we waited. after about 15 minutes they took our order…which I ordered coffee and breakfast…they never returned..after about ten minutes I got my own coffee from the bar…and waited another 30 mins before getting up and leaving. Not sure how we could of been forgotten…but as we walked out, they just sat another couple at our table, the hostess didn’t say anything.

  • very good for brunch, horrendous for dinner. there is just no reason to go here when you can get dramatically better versions of the same things (plus more variety) at Zaytinya for the same price.

  • You can read my brunch review here


    It is one of the best brunch values in town and a great place to wow out of towners with a view. I don’t know about it for anything else.

  • I’ve been there for brunch and found the food to be okay. However, I have to join the group of people commenting on the service. Very very poor. Our food took forever to come.

    I’ve not tried dinner, but don’t think I would bother going back. With Saint Ex round the corner there is no need to get brunch there.

  • I have to disagree with almost all of these comments. I love the food, love the wait staff and management. I’ve at least a six times, each a success! I’d say try it out once and if you dont like it, dont go again, but at least give them a chance!

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