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Neyla‘s dark, intimate interior is bathed in lush greenery and a sea of glowing lights.  Silk drapes billow overhead like an elegant crimson cloud.  A long communal table of marble is set with polished silverware and white cloth napkins.

The owner imports much of Neyla’s antique furnishings straight from Egypt, including a set of beautiful wood mirrors and a grand chandelier in the Tent Room that once hung in a palace.

Yet more awe-inspiring than any of these treasures is the show that happens in Neyla‘s open kitchen.  Behind a wall of flames, Chef Abdul Hash Housh seduces as he expertly spins skewers of meat and vegetables atop red-hot coals.  Smoke billows around him.  The smell of charcoal and succulent meat fills the air.

Sample little cubes of grilled Haloumi cheese, watermelon and mint in vinaigrette syrup ($7). Eaten in one bite, it is a mix of mild, salty, sweet and juicy.

If you’ve never tried falafel, these croquettes made with chick peas ($6) are very flavorful here.  I am faithful to a certain falafel shop, but I must admit, Neyla‘s are also very good.  Crunchy on the outside, creamy and mealy on the inside, served with nutty tahini sauce.

To cool the palate, order tabbouleh, a salad of chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, in a lemon olive oil dressing ($8), certain to leave your whole being minty fresh.  Wash it down with a cilantro margarita, and you’ll really be ready for your close-up.

A tray arrives with beef and vegetable kibbeh, with oyster mushrooms, shallots, walnuts, and truffle oil ($7).  I prefer the vegetarian version as they are lighter, leaving space for the feast that is to come.

Neyla‘s new Meshwi menu gives you a choice of four kebabs, two appetizers and a dessert ($35), available every night.  There are kebabs of juicy filet mignon, garlic, roasted red pepper and onion; vegetable kebabs with creamy eggplant, artichokes, asparagus, squash and tofu;  crisp jumbo shrimp kebabs with lemon, oregano and an arugula salad; and a seasonal grilled fruit dessert.

All served with garlic whip and a choice of batata harra, jasmine rice or eggplant puree.  Order a bottle of Massaya Gold Reserve, a Lebanese red that is spicy and full bodied, with hints of sandalwood and incense.  The perfect wine for grilled meats.

If that doesn’t send your blood racing, come on a Saturday night when things heat up at 9:30 pm with a live belly dancer.

3206 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20007