Greek / $$ / 4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
It was the crispy, smoky, charred little bits that made the spit-roasted lamb mezze so memorable. The pieces of lamb land on scoops of couscous mixed with long black grains of rice. Tzatziki topped with a housemade harissa is there for dipping if you need a distraction from all that flavor from the flames.
A lot of the menu at Kapnos Taverna, an offshoot of restaurateur Mike Isabella’s Kapnos in D.C. and run by chef-owner George Pagonis (both appeared on different seasons of “Top Chef”), features smoke as a predominate ingredient. There’s smoke in an eggplant dip (melitzanosalata) blended with roasted peppers and feta, in a charred octopus confit whose meat is downright creamy and in a whole, deboned rockfish with charred, almost bitter lashings from the grill. A side of roasty cauliflower is even better for the base of a thick cauliflower stem puree offset by pops of golden raisins. There’s also a touch of smoke on the warm, soft, charred, crispy and irresistible flatbread served with dips (try the cheesy tyrokaftari). Embrace the fire. << Back to 50 Best Restaurants