Maydan is an Arabic for a place of gathering where strangers can feel comfortable hanging out and breaking breads together. Reflecting that philosophy, the menu at the restaurant Maydan in DC is all about sharing food, many of them prepared from the epic wood-burning hearth that is an integral part of the central kitchen, with bread at the center. Ever since it opened in 2017, it has consistently been considered one of the best restaurants in the increasingly flourishing DC dining scene and for a good reason. My wife Jun and I love exploring Middle Eastern cuisine, and Maydan is one of the best restaurants we have ever been to in that culinary department. Shortly after we moved to DC last year, we went to the restaurant and had a fantastic meal; ever since, I was really struggling to book a reservation until recently. Our second visit was even better than our first and made all my effort booking our table worthwhile.
You can choose either a la carte dishes at Maydan or the “Tawle” tasting menu consisting of the restaurant’s standout dishes you can share family-style. At $75 per person (with a $20 supplement for lamb shoulder in the main menu, more on the lamb below), the Tawle is a great bargain and I highly recommend going that route. You will first be greeted with delicious spreads like hummus with chickpeas and tahini, muhamarra with walnut, roasted pepper and pomegranate molasses and walnut casik with kefir labne that you can dip with bread. If we had to eat only one thing for breakfast or lunch for the rest of our lives, I wouldn’t hesitate to get the muhamarra spread which was just marvelously delicious. Another memorable dish that we couldn’t stop eating was the halloumi cheese with Egyptian dukkah condiment and wildflower honey, with a unique combination of flavor and texture that you probably haven’t experienced elsewhere.
Next, you will have some more appetizer-sized dishes prepared straight from the fire. We just couldn’t stop diggon at the smoked beef and lamb koobideh and the chicken shish taouk, both so pleasantly smoky that you will start to wonder why not all meat dishes are prepared this way around the world. For the main dish on the center plate, we sent with the lamb shoulder with Syrian seven spice, sumac onions and herbs. We’ve had some fantastic lamb dishes while navigating the DC restaurant scene, and this was one of the best we had tasted. There was no gamey flavor of the lamb, and the texture of the meat enhanced by fire was just exceptional; we were starting to run out of room halfway into the meat and ended up taking the rest home and it was still fantastic when we ate it again the next day. The desserts of Turkish coffee chocolate pudding and apple banana walnut cake were solid, too.
As I noted above, Maydan is to this day one of the hardest tables to score a reservation in DC. Do plan ahead on Resy (the restaurant’s reservation opens three weeks in advance); if you are unsuccessful getting a table via Resy, the bar seat is available on a first-come, first-serve basis so consider showing up early around the time the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. The wine list, many from Middle East like Lebanon, is also thoughtfully constructed and the Middle Eastern inspired cocktails are also fun to check out. Jun and I had a great date night at Maydan during our visit, but I think the best way to enjoy the restaurant is to gather as many people as you can to share a variety of these dishes together. You will know when you walk out of the restaurant (full of smoky smell on your clothes and even your hair) that you just had a fantastic meal.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
Address: 1346 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Reservation via Resy