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jasonc

Kabob Palace, All-Night Kabob House on S. Eads and S. 23rd Street - Crystal City

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jasonc   

What are the other two?

A friend of mine who is intimately familiar with this type of food says Kabob Palace is the best. Didn't see a post for it so I shall mention it here. Better than Ravi, apparently.

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Joe H   
A friend of mine who is intimately familiar with this type of food says Kabob Palace is the best. Didn't see a post for it so I shall mention it here. Better than Ravi, apparently.

 

ravi's chicken kabobs are better.

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Lately I've been attending events where drinking to excess is the norm, and therefore I've been taking taxi cabs to and from. I make it a habit to debrief the drivers on their favorite places to eat. This place gets as many mentions as Mediterranean Gourmet Market in Franconia, so it has the cabbies' seal of approval.

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At 10:00 on a Sunday night Kabab Palace was packed. First impressions from a first visit: boneless chicken kabobs are tender and nicely flavored from a combination of a marinade and the smoke from the grill...but they don't really satisfy in the spice department if you're looking for something firey. Chapli kabob was pretty tame as well, and this is a dish that's often extremely hot. Halim, which is a combination of beef and lentils cooked so long that it turns into a kind of paste (it's better than it sounds) is great...just the right balance of spices. It's only available on the weekends, though.

My impression is that while Kabob Palace might be run by Pakistanis, it's adopted a cooking that's more generally Southwest Asian in style to appeal to a broader clientele. So while there are Pakistani dishes on the menu (e.g., the Halim), they also serve doogh, describe their ground meat kabob as Kabob-E Kubideh on the menu, and have Afghan flags around. In contrast, Ravi Kabob, which everyone seems to compare this place to, goes for the more authentic Pakistani food experience.

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merc340   

I used to love Kabob Palace until I went to East West Grill in Clarendon. Then I realized who REALLY had the best chick peas, bread, and mint sauce in town!

Also, unless you live in Crystal City, no one ever really wants to go there...

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KMango   

Just a quick note to confirm that Kabob Palace is still alive and kickin'.

-with the interior seriously upgraded since my last visit (about a year ago)

-and super friendly service at the counter

-several families were there around lunch time, enjoying a buffet and this thing on tv with a ball

-what *is* Kabob Palace putting in their rice? I could have eaten my weight in it.

-well-seasoned lamb, tender chicken kabobs in palace combo #11

-surprisingly fresh bread

-mint sauce OK, wanted more tang

-eggplant side dish is a must-order

-chick peas were perfect today

-parking not so hateful if you keep to the meters on Eads Street

I also got prayed at. Timing, and seat choice, is everything. As you walk in the restaurant, Mecca is to the back left.

Now I know.

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The boneless chicken kabob was delicious, very tender from the yogurt soak. Also, the chickpeas 'n' gravy go awesomely with a grape Fanta.

I was struck by a weird bit of "time marches on" while reading the 2000 Tom Sietsema review on the wall, in which he identifies the restaurant as Persian and the bread as pita. It's possible that he was just making the place more accessible for diners or hell, maybe there are Parsis in Pakistan (Freddy Mercury! Whoo!) and I'm just being too technical in distinguishing between my meats on a stick; but for those that have been eating in DC longer than I have, were there not a lot of Pakistani places back then?

Second historical note- back in the 90's, mom was on a diet (which meant we were on a diet. Sigh.) where she was advised to try pita for sandwiches instead of wonder bread. Mom didn't know that you could split pita into pockets, so our lunch sandwiches became two loaves of pita with peanut butter and jelly. This was awful. Not that cramming the filling into the pocket would have made it better, but it was really way too much dry-ass bread.

Time marches on.

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SeanMike   

When my brother moved into the area he started ranting about how good Kabob Palace is. As I took various Ubers and taxis, usually noting that I live behind Ravi Kabob, by far the most common refrain was that Kabob Palace was as good or better. So today, needing to pick up my car from my brother's house, I offered him lunch in exchange for a ride, and we went for takeout.

First impression: Kind of overwhelming. There's a huge menu with photographs, an area for a line, stickers everywhere with pithy little sayings, an embroidered map of Afghanistan saying "God bless US soldiers"...kind of sensory overload. My brother knew exactly what he wanted, so we walked up to the register and put in our orders - two lamb kabobs, no salad, and one chicken kabob with salad (for his wife), totalling $37 and change. It wasn't until after that I noticed the Coca-Cola coolers, so I had to go back through the line to get my precious (Coke Zero, 2 20 oz for $4.03).

When our orders came ready, we went up. My brother had told me to ignore the salad and get double rice and chickpeas, but one of the daily specials was chicken curry, so he got double rice, chickpeas, and goat curry. Due to a bit of confusion, my order already had been given double chickpeas when I wanted the same, but the counterman graciously added a few hunks of chicken curry to it. It came with three large pieces of bread courtesy of the dude sitting there making tons of it, plus we asked for extra sauce (the green sauce, which he said was cucumber but maybe it's the mint?).

Damn, that was some good chicken curry and lamb kabobs. The kabobs were a bit tougher than I'm used to with lamb, but extremely flavorful. The chickpeas and rice and bread were all quite good, and the sauce helped kill some of the heat that built up from the lamb - it wasn't overwhelmingly hot, but there was definitely spice there. And now I have at least a pound if not more of leftover rice and chickpeas...

I was very impressed with how friendly the service was, especially with one agitated customer who'd called his order in and it wasn't ready when he showed up. (It was ready moments ready, and he managed to completely miss the announcements then, which I thought amusing.)

Mmm, kabobs. It'd been a while. They have a goat curry occasionally which I'd love to try, so I'm going to have to get back there occasionally and try more of the menu - especially the chapli, which my brother said came out very spicy when he got it.

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I was very impressed with how friendly the service was, especially with one agitated customer who'd called his order in and it wasn't ready when he showed up. (It was ready moments ready, and he managed to completely miss the announcements then, which I thought amusing.)

Mmm, kabobs. It'd been a while. They have a goat curry occasionally which I'd love to try, so I'm going to have to get back there occasionally and try more of the menu - especially the chapli, which my brother said came out very spicy when he got it.

Nice write-up. I work in Crystal City these days, and my go-to lunch is Kabob Palace (and I work across the street from Jaleo and Kora). If you had to distinguish Kabob Palace from Ravi Kabob House, it would definitely be the service.

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DonRocks   
36 minutes ago, Simul Parikh said:

Cost unfortunately has nothing to do with quality in this era... Ambar sounds tasty but Ravi is always going to be cheaper and probably more delicious. No drinks though, but service will be meh. 

I have decided that Kabob Palace in Crystal City has better food than Ravi Kabob.

Whether I'm right is open to debate, but that has become my opinion.

I've been to both restaurants over a dozen times each, and Kabob Palace has won me over. The service is always polite and friendly, too, but I'm talking strictly about the food. My goodness, I had a Keema (ground beef and potatoes) there the other night (it's a Thursday-night special) that was *magnificent*, and it cost something like $10.95 for a huge portion, with chole (get the chole as your vegetable), salad, rice, and bread straight from the tandoor. It sounds like a lot of starch (potatoes, rice, and bread), but somehow, it doesn't come across that way when you eat it.

I urge people to go here on Thursday evenings - even at 4 AM - and try the Keema. It will be crowded, and you'll be waiting in line, yes, even at 4 AM. I update the Dining Guide several times per week, and people probably haven't noticed that Kabob Palace is numero uno in Crystal City, with nary a challenger in view. 

The Keema comes with one little tub of green sauce - you won't regret asking for 1-2 extra tubs of sauce, even if it costs you something. You may not use them, but you may (and you can always take them home, and use them on something else). One tub gets completely lost in the dish - I prefer take-out, because I like to dump everything into a mixing bowl (with the (possible) exception of bread), and eat it like a dog. I use a fork, but that's about the only difference between me and the dog.

When you're in line there, peek over towards your right, at the range-top, and note the size of some of the pots with stews burbling away in them - you could bathe an infant in one of them. Have you ever looked inside of a Pho kitchen, and seen the size of the Pho pots? These aren't *that* big, but they're several-times larger than the ones they use at Ravi (not that this is good or bad; it's just interesting).

I think they may also own Shisha Palace Cafe, next door, which is also open 24 hours. Note that in the former Cafe Pizzaiolo space on 23rd Street, there's a third "kabob house" (I'm loathe to call Kabob Palace a "kabob house"): Grill Kabob. I look forward to someone reviewing it, but it won't be me, because you'd have to pry me away from Kabob Palace.

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Bart   

What's a good (great) order to get there?  I work near there and have only eaten one lunch there 4 or 5 years ago.  

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DonRocks   
58 minutes ago, Bart said:

What's a good (great) order to get there?  I work near there and have only eaten one lunch there 4 or 5 years ago.  

I updated my post since you posted - it now contains the answer that you seek.

As you stand in line, you'll walk right in front of a counter containing the raw kabob skewers - I would advise getting whatever might appeal to you at the moment. All meat here is Halal, and all of it is good. Bone-in or bone-out may also be a major factor in your decision making (bone-in usually tastes better, but sometimes you just want pre-peeled shrimp, or seedless watermelon, you know?)

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yeah   

The bone-in chicken and kubideh kabobs were always my go-to.  We have many great options for kabobs in this area, I'm not sure any are better than KP.  Agree, get a lot of the green sauce and deploy liberally.

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Even as a vegetarian, I love KP. My husband gets the kubideh, and I get the veggie plate. If I had one wish for Kabob Palace, it would be for a Veg of the Day on weekends.

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DonRocks   

That mess of restaurants next door to Kabob Palace is consolidating into what appears to be one, big Shawarma spot - I didn't stop to look, but when I was driving by, it appeared like there was one sign that encompassed the entire side of the building. 

People may not know what I'm referring to, but if you've seen it, you'll know.

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Now an option on UberEATS.  For those of use who work in CC and don't want to trek across Route 1, this is very exciting!

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Ordered the lamb kabob "juicy" (their word for medium or medium rare) on Thursday, and it was dry/a little over cooked. Bummer, because they were batting 1.000 with me last several years. Won't stop me from going back. 

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iolaire   

Every few months my wife and I stop in for the chafing dish food of the day.  On the weekend its some sort of beef curry.  We always get one order to go with rice and some veggies plus two breads (for me).  One to go order is enough food for us to eat our fill once with enough left over for another meal (we are not huge eaters these days).  Even though the food in the chafing dish is ready to be slopped into the to go container there is always a bit of a wait.  By far our preference is whatever the special of the day is in those chafing dishes over a kabob. 

I will say the Moby Dick in Bethesda has much better quality daily specials, but since I no longer work up there Kabob Palace is a good alternative.

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