The Adams Morgan neighborhood nets a casual meze bar on Tuesday, May 23. Meli (1630 Columbia Road NW) comes from Eastern Point Collective, the restaurant group behind The Duck & The Peach, La Collina, and The Wells on Capitol Hill.
Situated at the foot of the luxury Silva apartment building, Meli will operate Tuesdays to Saturdays for takeout (4 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and dine-in service inside and out starting at 5 p.m. Look for souvlaki (chicken, veggie, and beef/lamb skewers), spreads (hummus, tzatziki), and sharable snacks like head-on prawns with harissa and lemon, falafel with garlic yogurt, and roasted potatoes finished with olive oil. The 35-seat setup attached to the building’s lobby also sports a tiny patio tucked an alleyway.
Restaurateur Hollis Silverman, the former COO of José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, says she “learned a lot” from the pandemic, which is when her trio of Capitol Hill establishments all opened.
“I’ve been thinking about Greek since the beginning,” says Silverman, adding there’s not many meze options in its Northwest neighborhood. “We’re trying to make sure a niche is being filled.”
Most Meli menu items are an approachable $10 and under and lean into the “Greek-ish” parts of the Mediterranean cuisine, she says, which include “the earthier and healthier sides.”
An annual membership fee ($25) goes towards neighborhood nonprofit Reed Cooke Club, as does proceeds from events. Membership will also include access to Meli’s virtual retail market and subscriptions for wine, CSA, grill boxes, and more.
A section of souvlaki platters ($35) and a trio of spreads ($28) are well-suited for group carryout orders. A “Little Meli Meal” for young ones includes grilled chicken, orzo and fruit ($8).
“All the things to go put together a picnic basket to take to Rock Creek Park,” says Silverman. “The idea is to become a part of peoples’ routines a couple days a week.”
Meli’s hybrid service model includes a mix of walk-up counter service and bartenders floating around the dining room to drop off wines, cocktails, and small plates. Meli will ease into full-service in the fall and extend hours to include brunch and lunch. “We are trying to keep labor minimal” to start, she says.
Executive chef Kat Petonito, who was part of Eastern Point Collective’s opening team, previously cooked at St. Anselm near Union Market under Marjorie Meek-Bradley and was chef de cuisine at Bethesda’s now-closed Greek spot Kapnos Kouzina before that.
“She knows Greek like nobody’s business,” says Silverman. Chef de cuisine Keri Wierczorek joins Petonito in the kitchen.
Like Duck & the Peach, where Meli’s general manger and wine director Danya Degen worked, the wine program will spotlight lots of female and small producers.
The sun-drenched cafe will also double as a gallery of sorts, with a fresh set of paintings exhibited by a local artist every quarter.