Review: Agora

Address: 1527 17th St., NW
Phone: 202-332-6767
Hours: Friday through Sunday 11 to 2:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday 11 to 1:30 a.m.

After being raised in a large Lebanese family, I have certain expectations when going to a new Mediterranean restaurant.

Agora exceeded them all.

In the heart of Dupont rests Agora – a cozy, Mediterranean bar and restaurant where one can gather and indulge in exquisite meals. As I studied the sizable menu, musicians such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Feist played softly in the background, creating a young ambiance.

As described by our friendly, knowledgeable Turkish waiter, Agora translates from Greek to “gathering place,” and the name could not be any more appropriate. It is an intimate hub – an ideal place to eat dinner with family, catch up with a friend, go on a first date or even relax at the bar while watching a baseball game.

Media Credit: Francis Rivera
Agora specializes in small plates to share. The grouper filet ($12) features fava beans and a ginger tomato.

The menu offers a traditional take on Mediterranean cuisine, serving meat and poultry hot meze – or “ana sicaklar” – salads – or “salatalar” seafood, hot and cold mezes, soups, flat breads and spreads. Each plate is small, as the custom is for a party to order several dishes and share them.

Agora’s staff wasted no time getting our food to the table – and the dishes maintained a steady flow out of the kitchen. Warm, fresh, cloud-like pita bread was the first to arrive and complemented what was to be a hearty meal. Our kaşık salads ($7.50 each) were next, and the tomatoes, onions, parsley, cucumber, olives and Feta cheese all collaborated brilliantly. The serving of scallops ($10) and plate of falafel ($6.50) definitely made an impression.

The scallops were seared to perfection with a tamarind glaze and yogurt sauce drizzled over the top. The falafel were deliciously traditional, with tahini sauce adding flavor to the recipe.

It was the dessert that truly stole my heart. The pistachio baklava ($6) finished the meal with a potent blend of pistachio flavor and orange blossom syrup. Apricot halves stuffed with walnuts resting on vanilla bean and mascarpone cheese with a blanket of caramel sauce and pistachios were assembled to create what was one of the most satisfying desserts I have ever tasted. Given the good price, I can guarantee this delicacy will be ordered every time I visit Agora.

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