One long octopus tentacle over skordalia, aka greek mashed potatoes, at Kapnos taverna (Photo by Rey Lopez)
One long octopus tentacle over skordalia, aka greek mashed potatoes, at Kapnos taverna (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Kapnos Taverna
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

(November 2015)

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