The sighting of the crescent moon Wednesday evening marked the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the lunar-based Islamic calendar centered around mediation and giving back to the community.
In addition to all the spiritual aspects of Ramadan, food serves as a major symbol of union during the month as you gather with loved ones to prepare for and break fast. Every culture prepares differently for suhoor, the meal that Muslims eat at sunrise to start their fast, and iftar, the meal that breaks fast when the sun sets – and the D.C. food scene reflects this diversity in their vast menu offerings.
In addition to the classic food to eat when you break your fast, like dates and samosas, here are some restaurants ranging from casual to upscale that offer iftar and suhoor:
Lapis, an Afghan restaurant located in Adams Morgan, offers a modern twist to typical Afghan homemade dishes. Chef Shamim Popal – who came to the United States as a refugee in 1987 from Afghanistan – opened Napoleon Bistro, which is now home to Lapis, in 2007 to share her culture through family recipes. To make Afghan dishes more modern, she adds ingredients like ginger and turmeric and uses less oil to make them healthier.
“We offer something with love for the guests,” Popal said. “The menu I created is something that I would eat myself or my family. So I put lots of effort to come up with something that is good for Ramadan.”
Lapis is offering a three-course menu for iftar with a mixture of modern and traditional dishes. For the first course, try their nask, a traditional Afghan soup made from lentils and carrots. For the second course, Lapis offers morgh qorma, a chicken stew cooked in tomatoes with yellow split peas, plums pits and fresh cilantro. Diners can also choose the kofta – spiced beef meatballs with carrots and potatoes cooked in a seasoned aromatic tomato and onion sauce.
For dessert, the menu features semolina halwa, made with saffron and garnished with almonds, as well as sheer berenj, which is a rice pudding made with cardamom and topped with pistachio.
1847 Columbia Road NW. Open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m., Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m.
Ottoman Taverna, a Michelin-awarded Turkish restaurant located in Mount Vernon Triangle, provides a four-course menu for iftar priced at $44.95 per person. The first course options include a Greek salad and red lentil soup to warm up your dining experience. The second-course choices feature falafel and patates kofte – potato cakes served with crumbled feta, yogurt sauce and hummus. These can ease you into eating after a full day of fasting – not very filling, leaving room for the hearty main dish.
The main entree comes in the third course, with chicken dishes like their tavuk kofte – grilled ground chicken kofta served with Turkish spices, pita bread and yogurt sauce. Alternatively, opt for a salmon dish or vegetarian option like cauliflower stew made with chickpeas, onions, tomatoes and carrots.
For the fourth course, you’ll choose from baklava, a classic thinly layered pastry filled with nuts and steeped syrup, katmer, a phyllo dough stuffed with cream and pistachio, dondurma, which is similar to ice cream, and sutlac, an oven-baked pudding.
425 I Street NW. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Meze, a Turkish restaurant located in Adams Morgan, offers an iftar menu for $45 per person. Starters include red lentil soup and iftar tabagi – a shareable dish with hummus, feta cheese, olives and tomatoes, as well as cucumber, jam, dates and butter. For a fresh salad, opt for the coban salatasi, which is also fit to share and features diced fresh cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and green peppers, dressed with olive oil.
The restaurant lets you choose from three main courses – izgara tavuk, which is made of seasoned boneless grilled chicken with rice and a side salad, adana kebap, which is grilled lamb skewer with rice and vegetables, or etli kurufasulye, white beans stewed with diced beef, tomatoes, onion and pepper served with rice. Lastly, Meze makes the dessert decision easy for you with their rendition of baklava.
2437 18th St. NW. Open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 4:45 to 11 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.
George’s King of Falafel and Cheesesteak
For a more laid-back and wallet-friendly option, check out George’s King of Falafel and Cheesesteak in Georgetown. George’s doesn’t have an iftar menu, but their usual menu includes chicken shawarma ($9.95) made of seasoned chicken, garlic whip and french fries, beef shawarma ($9.95) with marinated beef, onion, parsley, sumac, pickles and tahini sauce and a falafel wrap ($9.95), with pickled turnip, tomato, lettuce, tahini sauce and parsley.
Be sure to check out their most-known dish, George’s Cheesesteak ($10.95), served with grilled shaved rib eye steak, cheese and a variety of vegetables. George’s is open into the early morning hours, so it’s an ideal spot to pick up a bite for suhoor before sunrise.
1205 28th St. NW. Open Sunday to Wednesday from noon to 2 a.m., Thursday from noon to 3 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 4 a.m.
H & Chicken
Located on H Street Corridor, H & Chicken offers many options for comfort food, including chicken and waffles ($14.99) and sandwiches like their chicken philly ($14.99), which all come with a side of fries. They also offer a three-piece whiting fish plate ($13.99), which comes with a side, fajita with shrimp ($15.99) or chicken ($14.99) and fulfilling rice platters with lamb ($15.99) or chicken ($14.99).
Pair any of those options with sweets like banana pudding ($4.99) or homemade cakes ($6.99), including red velvet, chocolate Oreo, strawberry cheesecake or caramel pecan. H & Chicken is also available for both early-morning and late-night dining, so diners can come for either suhoor or iftar.
716 H Street NE. Open Monday through Thursday from 6 to 4 a.m., Friday and Saturday from 6 to 3 a.m.
This article appeared in the March 27, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.