Hospitality vet and political pot-stirrer Andy Shallal debuted his new Ancient Rivers restaurant last month, bringing a new Middle Eastern-themed dining option to the eclectic U Street corridor.
The Iraqi-American restaurateur, who’s stimulated debate at politically plugged-in Busboys and Poets via visiting authors and exhibits, hopes to do the same at Ancient Rivers (2121 14th Street NW).
Canvases showcasing Arabic letters and words are sprinkled throughout the laid-back space, which formerly functioned as Mulebone. The new menu focuses on mezze items, salads, entrees, kabob platters (chicken, kofta, vegetable, beef, lamb, shrimp, falafel), and sandwiches (pitas filled with chicken, beef, kofta, lamb, vegetable, and falafel).
There’s also draft beers (both local and imported), wines from around the globe, and cocktails fashioned with assorted mixers provided by the companion juice bar (think: beet, pomegranate, and cucumber, among others).
Read on to hear what the public is saying, just a few weeks in:
The Welcome Addition News: Facebook user Kathleen Kulikowski declares it a “great addition to the neighborhood!! Lovely space, delicious food and all around good vibes. A must try!” Gayle Fleming writes that she “loved the food, the drinks and the ambiance. This will be a new favorite for me, without a doubt.” [Facebook]
The Food 411 News: Facebook user Alexis Dominique says, “The appetizers are delicious, can't go wrong with chicken kabobs! Overall great spot, just as good as Busboys if you're really into Mediterranean food.” And Yelper Amber C. says, “The pita and hummus were tasty, the stuffed cabbage with meat I didn't think I would like but I was a fan ... The chicken kabobs were seasoned nicely with the sauce.” [Facebook, Yelp]
The Mixed Emotions News: Yelper Stephanie T. has decided the cons outweigh the pros. “They have great specials and the food is very delicious, but we won't be going here again because the service is really just terrible. Both weeks we went, the drinks and food took forever over 15 mins to arrive,” she writes. Yelper Rachel M. says her meal was “pretty good and large portions, but with other middle eastern food in the area, this didn't stand out.” [Yelp]
The Baller Brunch News: Yelper Patrick J. bills his Saturday brunch spread as the “best food I've had in a while. Really yummy French toast. I also got the Steak kabob and eggs and definitely recommend it.” And Nini J. says the brunch menu is basically the same as their dinner menu “without the raisins and rice. Their Kofta was sooo juicy and flavorful,” she writes. [Yelp]
The Dope Decor News: Zagat says the “funky, casual setting” is “themed on the waterways running through North Africa and the Middle East” and “features brilliant blue accents, a wall mural evoking the desert and homey wood tables and chairs.” [Zagat]