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
Mary was born and raised in New York City where her family owned restaurants. Instead of eating dirt on the playground, she ate duck blood, beef tripe and pork belly. She cut her teeth at The Mandarin Oriental and The Ritz-Carlton hotels, working with Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe, LeVar Burton, Jane Krakowski and others. Mary founded Girl Meets Food in 2009 as a cover for her debilitating addiction to fried chicken and was named Washington Post’s “Favorite Local Foodie.” After 13 years in hospitality, she started freelance writing for USA Today, The Washington Post, Eater, Washington City Paper, and more. Today, she provides digital marketing for hospitality clients as a content creator who’s contently creating content.