Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

The Mehran is the real deal for Arab food

Originally Published 09/28/00

3.5/5 hatchets

The smell of a charcoal grill with smoke wafting over your head. The din of heated conversations. A brightly-lit room with a few tables and a variety of languages. A second floor that advertises itself as space for praying. When you step into Mehran, you are greeted with an atmosphere that seems to be an increasingly rare find.

Most ethnic restaurants these days seem to homogenize their atmosphere, with American motifs and quiet, light sounds music. Mehran, however, is a real-deal Middle Eastern restaurant.

The food at Mehran is pretty good, but not elegant. The silverware is plastic and dinnerware is Styrofoam. The service is polite, albeit over an order counter. For what Mehran lacks in formality, it makes up for it in homey, authentic food. All orders are made freshly in Mehran’s kitchen, so the food is never served cold.

My friends and I sat down at Mehran a Sunday night and tried a variety of dishes. The Chicken Tikka Kabob, which the people at Mehran call Chicken Boneless, is a nice concoction of white-meat chicken marinated in a variety of tangy spices with a hint of smoke. The meat was a little dry, but that was easily forgiven considering the artful balance of spices that linger on the taste buds.

The Seekh Kabob is a sausage-like concoction of ground beef, onions and spices. It has a more aggressive flavor than the Chicken Tikka, but it really hits the spot for those who like onions. The smoky kabob is a bit pasty but well worth trying.

The Bhuna Gosht Punjabi is advertised as lamb/goat cooked in a hot and spicy gravy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the dish is certainly hot as advertised, a mixture of spices, ginger and onion that season the tender chunks of lamb and goat overpower the spices. The spice of the Bhuna Gosht melds perfectly with the meat

Each dish comes with two sides, but the salad is not recommended. The vegetables taste fresh, but the other appetizers are much more interesting. The spinach, which is spicy and buttery with little chunks of onion, is recommended for even non-spinach eaters. The rice is also buttery and fragrant.

The dishes come with bread, which almost justifies coming to Mehran in and of itself. The nan is a soft, chewy flat bread that tastes like it just came off the grill. Bread costs $0.99 a piece without a main dish, making it a viable option for a mid-afternoon snack.

For those who do not like spicy foods, there are two options. The rice and carrot pudding is creamy, and graced lightly with cardamom. But the carrots add little more than color to the pudding. Those who have never had a Lassi, a milkshake-style drink made with yogurt, should try one here. The Mango Lassi, made with fresh mango, was worth the wait. Lassis also come in strawberry, banana and almond, as well as a plain flavor.

After the entire meal, which was very filling, nobody paid more than $10 for an entree, a drink and a bowl of rice pudding that is adequate enough to share.

Although Mehran certainly isn’t refined, nor is it haute cuisine, it is definitely worth a visit. The owners are polite, and they will help you figure out what to eat on the menu if you need help. If nothing else, come for the atmosphere. It’s a little like stepping out of D.C. into another world for a few minutes.

Mehran is located at 2138 Pennsylvania Ave. It is open Mon.-Thurs.11 a.m. to 1a.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 a.m. and Sun. 12 p.m.-1 a.m.

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