I consider Neyla to be the best Lebanese restaurant in the area, and I know some Lebanese folks that share the same sentiment. It’s also my sister in law’s favorite restaurant in DC, so I get to go quite often. We just recently went in May since she was visiting from San Fran, so I thought now would be a good time to write about it. Neyla does all of the Lebanese offerings with authenticity, but also add a touch of fusion and innovativeness to their menu. I’ve never had a bad dish, and it’s my go-to place whenever I’m in the mood for Lebanese food (or when the sis in law is in town).

So, what sets Neyla apart from Lebanese Taverna?...Everything. Everything that Lebanese Taverna makes, Neyla does better. It’s as simple as that. All of the staple items are solid: shawarma, kabobs, lamb chops, hommus etc. All of the meats are always cooked to the right tenderness and spiced perfectly. This is also one of the few Lebanese places that has a very moist chicken shawarma, that’s served sandwiched between mini, grilled pitas. It’s so damn cute and equally delicious. We often go in a large group and order a huge sampling of mezzes (the Lebanese tasting) to start, and few of the kabob “mixed grill” entrees (lamb, kafta and chicken) for the table to share. This is the best way to sample a good variety of the food, and there is more than enough to go around. The traditional mezzes consist of hommus, baba ghannoug, grape leaves, kibbeh, shawarma, phyllo cheese rolls, falafel, and much more. I’ve enjoyed every single mezze there, and honestly have no criticism. Freshly baked, hot pita bread from the open kitchens brick oven is also flowing all night long. While it’s easy to fill up on the mezzes here, do save some room for the “mixed grill” kabob entrees. As previously mentioned, Neyla knows how to spice and cook their kabobs with precision. And the sumac spiced onions and vermicelli laced rice served alongside is the perfect compliment.

Neyla has a lot more to offer than the traditional Lebanese dishes. A vegetarian version of the traditional beef kibbeh is made of pumpkin, mushrooms, and shallots. This fried concoction is yummy. Calamari, fried in a crust of chickpea flour and paprika, giving it a completely different, exciting flavor. Lamb chops sitting in a bed of chick pea confit was equally appetizing. Although, I have not tried them, the menu also delves into other tastes of the Mediterranean , offering Spanish paella, a Moroccan tagine, and even French and Italian entrees. But, I like to stick with the traditional Lebanese/fusion offerings. If I want French food, I wouldn’t pick Neyla to eat it.

Along with great Lebanese food, is great ambiance….that is if you are into that type of scene. It’s not for everyone. As you enter, it feels like you are walking into a club. Neyla is adorned with very dim lights, swags of romantically colored drapes, chandeliers, candles, mirrors, trendy music, and tons of attractive people to liven the restaurant. It’s loud and packed all night long. A large bar with an equally large mirror is the focal point. As for seating, they have nicely spaced out marble top tables. They also have a number of booths with comfortable pillows to rest against. There’s a large high-top communal table along the middle, which is usually where my group sits. And there’s a private room in the back that has extravagant chairs, tables, and chandeliers, almost resembling that of a palace. I’ve been to a couple parties hosted by friends in the back room, and it has worked out great, holding at least 30 people. Neyla’s location is also great, in the heart of Georgetown, a short walk to all the after-dinner venues.

Skip dessert. I don’t think you’ll have much room for it anyways. The baklava was too sweet, buttery, and soggy. Other desserts with sweetened middle eastern cheese were just too rich and “thick” for me. Maybe I’m just not into Lebanese desserts.

The wine list is a typical size, and I’ve always found something decent. It is on the pricier side in comparison to the food prices. Lebanese beer is on the menu. They also serve sangria there…not the best I’ve had, but fun to order nonetheless.

The service is decent, but it’s really hard to get their attention once your order is taken. The wait staff is running around constantly, as they are usually to full capacity and have swarms of people just hanging out at the bar. The floor manager is walking around all night long, and is very attentive if you need anything.

If you are new to Lebanese food, this is where you should try it. And if you love Lebanese food, like I do, I think you'll agree that this is one of the best in DC.

3206 N Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

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