Lebanese Taverna

1101 S. Joyce St.
Arlington, VA 22202

CUISINE Lebanese, Middle Eastern

PRICE $$ ($13-$20)

HOURS Open for lunch and dinner daily.



NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2008
Best Bargain Restaurant 2008
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011

NEARBY METRO Blue Line(Pentagon City) Yellow Line(Pentagon City)


Kids Menu
Outdoor Dining
Accepts Credit Cards

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NVM Review

(November 2010)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 7.6 Ambiance: 7.7 Service: 7.4

This mezze Mecca is solidifying its power base with astute business practices, from sustainable cooking (the entire chainlet now serves only holistically raised lamb) to reducing waste (their Arlington market is ground zero for a pilot, wholesale recycling project).

And that’s the stuff you don’t see.

One readily notable—and much appreciated—change is the nascent build-your-own hummus option, a mix-and-match alternative (outfit your homespun dip with around a dozen tantalizing embellishments) that makes custom sampling a snap.

Zahtar-rubbed rib chops are all lamb—each sanguine slice of velvety meat a celebration of the well-worth-the-wait, grass-fed existence—all the time.

A query about the homemade donuts precipitates a history lesson about how the rosewater-fried treats typically only appear in Lebanon around Halloween. Here, you can indulge in the teardrop-shaped fritters, liberally drizzled with saffron syrup and accompanied by honey-infused yogurt (wickedly tangy), whenever you like.

(November 2009)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 7.3 Ambiance: 7.6 Service: 7

It’s been 30 years since the Abi-Najm clan carved out their piece of the local hospitality pie with the original Lebanese Taverna. And the first family of falafel slinging shows no signs of letting up.

The Tysons locale, in particular, has evolved into the latest battleground in the battle of the sexes.

Gleeful baby showerers laid siege to the dining room (the gift table bedecked with shiny presents and bulging bags from Georgetown Cupcake) one afternoon. On another, the bar area was beset by jersey-wearing fans satiating their love of soccer and mezze. (“We SHOULD bring some home to Mom,” a bear of a man sheepishly informed his son after surveying the mound of picked-clean dishes before them.)

Chicken smacks of garlic, cinnamon and lemon—a welcome change from hot sauce-soaked preparations.

Grilled swordfish swims in a sea of yogurt-feta sauce, while seared tomatoes, mushrooms, squash and zucchini bring the best of the land.

Herb-infused lamb (gloriously damp meat) is deposited into a pine nut-laden nest of basmati rice, with cucumber-spiked tzatziki waiting in the wings.

(November 2008)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 6.8 Ambiance: 6.8 Service: 6.2

With a half-dozen area restaurants now under their belt, it should be safe to crown the Abi-Najm clan as the heavyweight champs of modern mezze.

Although each Lebanese Taverna shop fosters a different look and feel than its siblings—the original Arlington location is all etched glass and historical snapshots, whereas Tysons II showcases faux stone walls and twinkling lanterns—the near-uniform menu allows longstanding Taverna devotees to feast on all their favorites no matter where they might go.

Spice-infused feta (bold cheese gets kicked up a few notches by mint, paprika and black pepper) lights a fire in your belly.

Seared lamb is accompanied by a mint-cilantro paste (warm meat, herby coolness work well together) and roast potato spears. Piles of shaved beef take comfort in the company of basmati rice, tahini and garlic puree.

(May 2008)

By Warren Rojas

Mount a multi-sensory mezze tour via the herb-encrusted manakish bel zaatar ($7), a veggie flatbread studded with roasted sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram and onions, followed by the subtle charms of chicken shawarma ($7) dipped in homemade garlic sauce and concluded by kibbeh nayeh ($9), spiced lamb mixed with crushed wheat and accompanied by yogurt sauce and bright pink pomegranate seeds.

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