Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Affordable Eatery Offers Regional Ambiance

CAITLIN SANDERS FOR THE HOYA DESTINATION: DINNER Neyla offers inexpensive, Mediterranean fare.
DESTINATION: DINNER Neyla offers inexpensive, Mediterranean fare.

4/5 stars


When it comes to adventurous eating, I’m far from an expert. I pretty much put hot sauce on everything, so saying that I love strong flavors is an understatement. Picky eaters who just stick to chicken and potatoes are an enigma to me; I cannot understand how someone could pass on potentially amazing food because the food seems too different. I am going to make a personal appeal to all those picky eaters right now to miss out no longer. Put aside your reservations and make your way to the mind-blowing Neyla, which is only a few blocks from Georgetown’s front gates.

Neyla, whose N Street location is a plus for those who do not want to walk long distances before eating, boasts Mediterranean fare, but its ambiance and decor have a definite Middle Eastern feel. Upon entering, the establishment’s purple, maroon, red and gold color scheme makes you feel like you have been transported to Arabia. Drwan-back curtains and pillows on the booths contribute toNeyla’s comfy lounge feeling as well. Though I went on a cold January day, I cannot wait to go back in the spring and sit on their beautiful, canopied outdoor patio.

When my friend and I walked through the door, we were immediately helped and promptly seated. This attentive service never disappointed, and all the waiters seemed knowledgeable and passionate about the food on the menu. To start, we were served a complementary basket of toasted pita with spices on top and olive oil, olives and homemade Lebanese yogurt for dipping. The yogurt was savory and nicely complemented the rich spices on the pita. My friend and I loved the combination so much that we finished the basket in a matter of minutes — and we probably would have settled for just that for dinner. However, I am glad we ordered other things because they ended up being just as good, if not better.

The menu is broken up into three categories: “Mezza,” which has hot and cold options, “Charcoal Grill” and “To Share.” Mezza has the most options and is the least expensive. Charcoal Grill is akin to the entree section on most menus and offers many proteins like lamb, chicken and beef kebabs. The kabobs are also served with a side of garlic whip and the choice of arugula salad, batata harra, almond rice or eggplant puree. The final section includes a selection of foods from every part of the menu and a $60 prix fixe meal.

My friend and I decided to order from the Mezza portion of the menu, and we chose both hot and cold plates. The warak enab, a meal from the cold section that is comprised of grape leaves stuffed with rice, parsley, herbs, lemon and olive oil, was a bit oily but nevertheless delicious. They came out looking like rolls, with four sitting atop each other. The combination of the grape leaves and parsley had a delicious, earthy taste; however, the olive oil made the texture a little slimy. From the hot options, we selected chicken shawarma, a toasted pita pocket made with chicken, garlic whip, sumac and pickled cucumber. I would encourage picky eaters to try this dish because it is similar to a sandwich — and it was my favorite. Next was the vegetable kibbeh, a squash dumpling filled with oyster mushrooms, walnuts and truffle oil. The dumplings arrived piping hot and were served atop a dollop of plain yogurt. This came at a close second and had a crunchy and immensely savory appeal.

Each option came in a more than generous portion and at eight dollars per dish. The Mezza options are great to share, have so much variety and are affordable. In addition, a basket of freshly baked naan is included, ensuring that you are content and stuffed with great food when you leave the restaurant. Neyla is the perfect destination for a group gathering, and I cannot wait to share this gem with more of my friends.

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