2300 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
CUISINE Lebanese, Middle Eastern
PRICE $$$ ($21-$30)
HOURS Open for lunch and dinner daily, Sunday brunch.
NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2008
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011
Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO Orange(Court House)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 7.6 Ambiance: 7.4 Service: 7.2
Whether cooling your heels inside on a banquette or resting your aching dogs out on the breezy patio, rest assured that any visit to Me Jana will likely culminate in your waltzing out the door with a little extra spring in your step.
The kitchen is staying the course with its hot and cold small plates. Meanwhile, the bar continues to break ground in the advancement of Lebanese viticulture (the conservative carte boasts around a dozen native iterations of everything from cult Cabernet Sauvignon blends to refreshing blanc de blancs).
Battered smelt are quickly scaled—frying makes spine extraction a breeze, speeds access to the oily flesh—and easily snacked upon.
Chicken livers, fresh from a citrus-hot pepper-cilantro soak, glide across the gullet before rattling the taste buds.
Grilled pitas, filled with a savory ground beef-lamb-onion mixture, are good but rocket to great when used to hustle alluring hunks of molten halloumi-manchego-mozzarella gratinee to the lips.(November 2009)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 7.7 Ambiance: 7.7 Service: 7.4
”Believe it or not, I have another meeting here,” a busy professional informed Me Jana staff as she settled in for what sounded like her second meal of the day at the mezze haven.
And who could blame her?
The patio provides ample afternoon distractions—attracting condo dwellers treating their well-behaved mutts to a chill evening out, as well as gangs of adventure diners seeking to broaden their culinary horizons via mix-and-match meals.
For even though the menu seems immutable, even familiar-sounding dishes seem to have a little more on them than you might find at copycat establishments.
Shiny anchovies and glistening peppers steeped in olive oil (the lemon-splashed fat going a long way toward bridging the gap between the potent fish and piquant vegetable) are most notably enhanced by a diced mint-pine nut medley (mellowing).
Grilled dates, their thick skin blistered while the interior weeps caramelized fruit, find solace in the embrace of flame-licked haloumi (grill mates extraordinaire).
Lamb and beef sausages are doused in spicy tomato sauce for an all-around heat cycle that sets the pulse racing and the taste buds aflame.(November 2008)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 7.8 Ambiance: 7.7 Service: 7.2
Let’s call it love at first bite. Or perhaps first dunk would be more accurate.
My maiden voyage to Arlington’s attractive new Lebanese suitor, Me Jana, had been going along swimmingly. But there still hadn’t been any real sparks.
Until the kebabs arrived. The skewers were escorted by house garlic whip—an alluring fusion of olive oil, egg whites and garlic (sour cream-like texture with overt nuttiness).
Now, I was hooked.
A tad ritzier (think semicircular banquettes, tangerine lamp shades and knit metallic placemats) than some Middle-Eastern competitors, Me Jana seems determined to bridge the gap between traditional mezze and modern cuisine. A handsome central main bar splits the restaurant into two long but slender spaces with matching window views.
The kitchen is just as forward thinking.
Fried zucchini fritters combine the finely grated squash with manchego and mint (interesting combo). Grilled meats vary from totally bland (seasoned beef totally fizzles) to almost grand (chicken needs less fire, more smoke). Meanwhile, a Flintstone-sized lamb roast (awash in au jus and wine) arrives accompanied by truffled mashed potatoes (unexpected, but well enjoyed).