Just walking into YELLOW will brighten your mood. Between the glorious scent of freshly brewed espresso and whatever happens to be emerging from the wood-fired oven — which is appropriately adorned with yellow tile — the cafe exudes fun and delights the senses.
Since opening its doors in Georgetown in December of 2022, YELLOW has been a smash hit. Offering a menu of decadent pastries, wood-fired pitas and sandwiches, specialty soft-serve and unique coffees and teas, YELLOW draws inspiration from Chef Michael Rafidi’s Middle Eastern roots and background in French cooking techniques to create the highest quality cafe experience.
Rafidi is perhaps best known for his Michelin Star-winning restaurant Albi in Navy Yard. He closed the doors to YELLOW’s pop-up location, which sat just next door to Albi, to open the cafe’s Georgetown location.
Once you see a pillowy pita sprinkled with za’atar and drizzled with olive oil emerge from the oven, it’s hard not to order one for yourself. Other offerings include the twice-baked almond arak croissant, a sweet, nut-studded and glazed confection that will leave you wishing you had one more bite when you’ve finished.
If you’re looking for savory options, look no further than the wood-fired shakshuka. Two poached eggs nestled inside a stew of smoky tomatoes and onions, charred peppers, feta and harissa are a flavorful explosion — and of course, the dish comes with a steaming hot pita, the perfect vessel for soaking up every last bit of the delicious sauce.
The coffee program at YELLOW is curated by Coffee Director Ayat Elhag and sourced by Counter Culture, a coffee roasting company based in North Carolina. Offerings include a smoked chai, halva honey and turmeric honey lattes, coconut cardamom iced coffee, Damask rose milk tea and several delightful-sounding cocktails. I’m partial to the turmeric honey latte, a slightly sweet and spiced creation that is the perfect addition to any food order.
Perhaps you stroll into YELLOW in the afternoon, searching for a light snack. A wood-fired pita and specialty dip will likely satisfy your peckishness. At $3 per pita and $3 per dip, it’s an economical snack and a delicious one, too. If you’re like me, the sumac-scallion labneh is your obvious choice in dip, but you cannot go wrong with any choice. That said, YELLOW is not your average budget cafe or bodega. The ingredients used are sustainably sourced, and the prices tend to reflect that reality, so perhaps save your order of a $17 lunch pita for when the parents are in town.
Another word of advice: if you’re not looking to play seat roulette, visit YELLOW on a weekday. The weekend gets quite busy, and you will likely find a line out the door. Seats open up on a first-come, first-served basis, so there’s a possibility you’ll get stuck with your tray of food frantically searching for a table to snag amid the bustle — not the most relaxing Sunday morning experience. If the weather is nice or you live close by, to-go is another option to avoid the chaos.
YELLOW does have a no-laptop policy, which I’m sure initially frustrated some students. However, it seems the decision was intentional. Table cards illuminating the no-laptop policy let patrons know YELLOW is a space intended to bring people together over good food and conversation. It’s a place to meet a friend for coffee and catch-up, sans-laptop and sans-staring at your phone if you can help it.
If you are looking to visit YELLOW, make it an experience where you can be present and enjoy the moment. The cafe hopes to foster relief from daily burdens and stressors so that while you are inside its four walls, the only things that matter are zesty za’atar and silky smooth hummus.
YELLOW opened with limited hours in the summer, but it will now be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Rafidi also started offering “Family Dinners,” prepared meals to-go, and discussed plans to expand the menu to include Lebanese flatbreads. He expects YELLOW to return to Navy Yard as well — though he is not sure exactly where or when.