Jump to content

Astor Mediterranean, Two Locations on Pershing Drive in Arlington and Columbia Road in Adams Morgan


Recommended Posts

I received a coupon/flyer in the mail today announcing a grand opening for Astor Mediterranean at 2300 N. Pershing Drive (not too far from the corner of N. Pershing and Arlington Blvd/Route 50). It says it's a family-owned restaurant first established in Adams Morgan in 1980. I assume it's the one located at 1829 Columbia Rd, and I found some positive posts about Astor here. Sounds like it might be good for a quick meal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I received a coupon/flyer in the mail today announcing a grand opening for Astor Mediterranean at 2300 N. Pershing Drive (not too far from the corner of N. Pershing and Arlington Blvd/Route 50). It says it's a family-owned restaurant first established in Adams Morgan in 1980. I assume it's the one located at 1829 Columbia Rd, and I found some positive posts about Astor here. Sounds like it might be good for a quick meal.

Astor is definitely good for a very cheap and reasonably healthy meal. The 'Astor Vegetarian', which I order about 90% of the time here, is a lot of food for only $6.50 (several dips, several vegetable dishes, spanikopita, dolmades, falafel, pita).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still haven't managed a comprehesive survey of area falafel, but Astor must be among the tops. To my taste, it's a wee bit overseasoned (maybe even just less salt would make it on the mark?), but the chickpea flavor and spice mix are right on, and the texture is perfect: crisp but light outer crust protecting a light fluffy inside.* As part of the Astor vegetarian platter, dunk it in or chase it with any of the salads. The beet salad and the Egyptian moussaka are longstanding favorites of mine.

*I didn't have it in a sandwich, which I consider the true test, but I have confidence...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Something I've often wondered (although not enough to do anything about it) is: Does the Astor in Adams Morgan bear any relationship to the old Astor Greek restaurant on M Street, which closed a very long time ago? It was somewhere on the same block as Bell's (and, er, Camelot). They had pretty good Greek food in hefty portions for practically no money, with belly dancing upstairs on weekends (which I never experienced). Anybody know? Anybody remember the old Astor?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My fiancée and I ate dinner at the Arlington Astor Mediterranean last night (2/13/08). We arrived around 8:40 p.m., and we were the only customers there for a time. The restaurant presents as sort of a deli/fast-food restaurant, with much of its fare on display in glass units sandwiching the cash register. Orders are placed at the counter, and patrons can then get napkins, silverware, and condiments from a central location before grabbing a table. Our entrees were brought to the table for us, though I do not know if this is regularly the practice or if the employees did this just because the place was almost empty.

My fiancée ordered a triangular "spinach pie" (spanakopita) and the falafel platter (four small-ish falafel patties, Egyptian salad, mini-serving of hummus in a plastic container, and grape leaf), and I got the "Astor vegetarian," which is a vegetarian sampler comprised of two falafel, tabouleh salad, beet salad, Egyptian salad, chickpea salad, eggplant moussaka (or, as they describe it, "mussaka"), baba ganoush, fava bean dip, hummus, and lentil salad. The vegetarian sampler, by the way, is not nearly as big as it sounds (which is fine by me), and would not constitute a meal for two people.

The spinach pie seemingly lacked the feta cheese noted on the menu, but was enjoyed. The falafel was perfectly good, though not great (I once again note that Sammy T's in Fredericksburg has the best falafel anywhere in Virginia or D.C.). The tzatziki (Greek yogurt sauce) served with the falafel was very, very good. They should sell it in the form of an appetizer. The fava bean dip was flavorless; it should be replaced with something like the spicy red pepper-walnut dip you can find at certain Middle Eastern restaurants such as Layalina. The Egyptian salad was similar to fattoosh salad, but lacking sumac and pita chips, both of which would have helped it. The hummus was okay, but nothing distinctive. The lentil salad was good if you like lentils, and the same is true of the beet, tabouleh, and chickpea salads. There was nothing offensive about those dishes, but nothing amazing, either.

The baba ganoush was fantastic. Really, really good. I order baba all over the place, and Astor's version is one of the best. The only thing detracting from it was the generic pita that just doesn't do justice to any of the dips. The eggplant mussaka was outstanding, worthy enough on its own to make me a repeat customer. It had a wonderful flavor and perfect texture. And the grape leaf (or "vine" leaf, as they label it) was stellar. It was fresh and dripped with a slightly tangy oil.

I ordered baklava to take home for dessert, and it was superb.

The meal, including the baklava, came to about $26.00, including tax and tip. Now that I have a feel for the menu's high and low points, I am sure that I'll head back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As odd as it may sound, we love the Egyptian Pizza... and order from the Arlington location more times than I'd like to admit... I feel like Pavlov at the the mere mention of it to my husband as a possible dinner delivery/take-out option... he's immediately ordering! :)

We never would have thought about ordering pizza from Astor even though it is prominantly pictured on their menu, but once when we were in the restaurant, we noticed several tables having the pizza and it looked really good.

Our favorite, The Egyptian pizza is as follows: "Eggplant, green pepper, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, mozzarella, & feta on our square-cut crust. " The eggplant is the same eggplant they have in the case - which is delicious. The real secret with the pizzas here is that they put fennel seeds in the dough for the crust... something one of the owners, Sam (who is a genuinely nice guy), explained to us. It's a great pizza... it's not going to compete with all the wonderful true pizza places we have at our disposal, but for the mere combination of flavors - it's always a winner for us! :)

We usually get a greek salad as well - which, although doesn't actually seem very "Greek", is wonderful with a stuffed grape leaf, beets and olives and several other items included.

Here's the menu - http://www.astorfoods.com/arlington.html The other items we've tried have also always been very good, but that pizza is what keeps us coming back.

Now, I'm starting to drool at the thought... ha ha! :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We never would have thought about ordering pizza from Astor even though it is prominantly pictured on their menu, but once when we were in the restaurant, we noticed several tables having the pizza and it looked really good.

Our favorite, The Egyptian pizza is as follows: "Eggplant, green pepper, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, mozzarella, & feta on our square-cut crust. " The eggplant is the same eggplant they have in the case - which is delicious. The real secret with the pizzas here is that they put fennel seeds in the dough for the crust... something one of the owners, Sam (who is a genuinely nice guy), explained to us. It's a great pizza... it's not going to compete with all the wonderful true pizza places we have at our disposal, but for the mere combination of flavors - it's always a winner for us! :)

A PM I sent to levjn this evening:

Fuck You!

Sent Today, 06:45 PM

1) I got almost no sleep last night and am a zombie

2) Starving (more of a "false hunger" due to lack of sleep)

3) I'm calling right now and ordering an Egyptian pizza - it sounds PERFECT.

This pizza is hitting all the right notes, and could not possibly be any more satisfying given my current body chemistry. It's $15, and worth every penny. I had thought certain I'd driven by Astor before, but after tonight, I don't think so; it's really off to the side, and I think I was extrapolating from the Adams Morgan location.

Thank you SO MUCH for this recommendation. This (dr.com) is a great website, and, despite how that sounds, I say that with complete humility, because the substance of this place really has nothing to do with me. Oh, I may have plotted the garden, but it's people like levjn who grow the wonderful flowers that are the backbone of this community. For the people, by the people ... but definitely not wee, The Pizza.

I'm having this with an Emilio Lustau Palo Cortado "Peninsula" Sherry, and it works pretty well; you could almost go with a less-oxidized Fino here.

Upgraded in the Dining Guide, and no, it's not a "contender" for Best In Area; it just is what it is which is tasty and satisfying.

Cheers,

Rocks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The satisfying, steadying effects of astor's pizzas, sandwiches and spreads have always kept me from toppling over during sunday doubles; and any other days when im not quite as, say, superstar, as an onion from northern neck.

And yes, the key to the pizzas surprising delicious is indeed the fennel seed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And in the thread, someone says that the Astor on Columbia Road has koshari too.

Indeed they do, though it's not on the menu. At 6:00 tonight there were about two portions left on the heating tray, and it showed the effects of having been sitting around for a while, frankly, with a hard piece of dried out macaroni ruining every few bites. I don't want to be too picky about this, but the tomato sauce was also a bit of a letdown, lacking that vinegary tang I remember. All in all it will do in a pinch, I guess, but I'm looking forward to trying other koshari offerings in the area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had lunch here yesterday because my physical therapist is in the building, my appointment there was late s I was starving afterwards, free parking and wireless. With no expectations, the food was great.

I had the vegetarian sampler - lentils, hummus, lovely smoky baba ghanoush, some bean puree, cucumber salad, a stuffed grape leaf and two falafel patties, plus a warm pita. Oh, and some chickpeas, and probably something else but I can't remember. They kindly substituted one of the salad items, beets, because I hate them.

Total was $10 and change, and I didn't need dinner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had lunch here yesterday because my physical therapist is in the building, my appointment there was late s I was starving afterwards, free parking and wireless. With no expectations, the food was great.

I had the vegetarian sampler - lentils, hummus, lovely smoky baba ghanoush, some bean puree, cucumber salad, a stuffed grape leaf and two falafel patties, plus a warm pita. Oh, and some chickpeas, and probably something else but I can't remember. They kindly substituted one of the salad items, beets, because I hate them.

Total was $10 and change, and I didn't need dinner.

Through January 31, 2013, if you mention the discount code "EatHealthy2013" (per their Facebook page), you can get a 15% discount on all pizzas.

I think it's time to walk like an Egyptian (thanks levjn!)

---

ETA - Note to Astor management: Do not, repeat, do NOT ever run a "Facebook special discount" without informing every single one of your staff about it, particularly the ones working the cash register or answering the phone.

I called and ordered my pizza (which I would have ordered with or without the discount), and said, "I'm supposed to mention 'EatHealthy2013.'" The girl on the other end of the phone, who spoke only a little English, didn't pick up on what I was saying, I could tell.

So when I got there, I said it again. "I'm supposed to say, 'EatHealthy2013.'"

When someone rings my doorbell, and I open the door, and they start immediately talking about Apollo's Chariot, I'm going to look at them like they just got out of an asylum. And that is exactly the look that I got from the cashier. The conversation then went something like this:

"Oh, never mind. It's not important."

"What were you trying to say?"

"There's a discount code on your Facebook page."

She didn't understand me, so began speaking Spanish to another woman who, after about twenty seconds, realized what I was saying.

The cashier turned to me:

"Fifteen? 1-5?"

"Yes, but it doesn't matter. I'm just going to put it in your tip jar."

So my $17 Egyptian pizza was discounted "15 percent," and they took $1.70 off.

Thanks a lot, management. Was it worth $1.70 to me? No way.

How's the pizza? It's wonderful (truly, it is - this is one of the most viscerally satisfying vegetarian dishes in town). Next time, however, I pay full fare and don't subject myself to this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How did I not know about this little gem before reading the 40 best bites article? I can't believe I have lived in Arlington for so long not knowing about this place. I feel a bit sheepish about it in fact. Like if I had done a little more due diligence I would have known. Anyway I had a very good kufta and beet salad. The hummus isn't as good as Lebanese Taverna Market, but I thought the meat and sandwich were really good, and the beet salad had a nice bit of acidity to counter the earthy flavor of the beets. Hubby really liked his lamb burger. I liked how casual and easy it was with everything being made really fresh and to order. Will definitely be back here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure dr.com tipped me off to Astor when we move to Arlington. It's one of our regular places for either eating there or take-out. Besides the food quality, the ample parking and toddler-friendliness of the place are also a plus. and my daughter is a carnivore... so kabobs are a great hit.... particularly the kufte kabob. The lamb shank is a great deal as is the half chicken. The only dud I've had there is the steak. We have yet to try the pizza... that requires a bit more advanced planning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Going to keep pushing it.... Egyptian Pizza! ;-) we've never tried the Kufta that is getting them the praise on the top 40 eats list.... I'm guessing the Post "testers" didn't try the Egyptian Pizza, right Don? Ha ha! ;-)

regardless, its a good spot and I'm happy to see them getting the business! By the way, they used to deliver when they first opened the Arlington location - making it that much easier to choose Astor for pizza night... That's how we got to know the owner, Sam... Apparently the owner driving around Arlington delivering pizzas turned out to be a less than stellar use of his time.. ;-). Thus no more delivery... Wish they'd bring that back, but its still worth the drive. :-)

Oh, the "Greek salad" is a great salad - it's your typical greens but then topped with several items from the case - the beet salad, cucumber salad, a stuffed grape leaf roll, some olives... So it's a nice way to "sample" a bit more. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We love this place. Have eaten from there less often since they discontinued delivery, but it's a great place to go with kids, we get takeout from there from time to time, and it's always delicious. Will have to try the Egyptian pizza (how spicy is it with the jalapenos, though?).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Egyptian is pretty spicy with the jalapeños... Sometimes we say "light on the hot peppers" or I often pick them off partially when eating as I find they've "done their job" spice wise while just sitting on the pizza while baking, etc... :-).

Another note - Astor has vegan cheese. - so if you're dairy intolerant, they can put that on any of their pies. I had to give up dairy close to a year while nursing my dairy intolerant daughter and it was awesome to still get pizza from Astor with the vegan cheese! :-) but I am glad to be back to full on dairy now so I can enjoy the feta too! ;-)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just had the Egyptian pizza (sans jalapeno). Mmmm. The fennel is wonderful, and the eggplant is stellar. I will probably go back to my Mediterranean chicken sandwich next time, just because there's too much pizza for me (even over two days) and my husband doesn't eat everything that's on the pizza. But it was really good. The Med chicken sandwich has lots of that delicious tzatiki.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lunch at the Pershing Drive location exceeded expectations. For $13.95, the special salmon described on the blackboard delivered a hefty portion, a generous fillet with two accompanying side dishes. The citrus/herb/oil marinade for the fish provided just the right accent to rally mere richness into a boldly satisfying bite. Within the ten-minute wait, the fish was perfectly cooked; glorious crispy points on the outside, moist and succulent translucence on the inside.

For the sides, I chose chick peas and rice, expecting a filling-yet-pedestrian backdrop for the migratory swimmer. Instead, cinnamon and bay leaf jumped out from the legumes, while adept salt and mystery flavor undertone enhanced the rice. My first thought was chicken or other bone stock as the taste enhancer, but with so many vegan and vegetarian menu options, the venue is unlikely to employ such tactics. This remains a pleasant mystery requiring further investigation via a return visit.

All service is counter service at Astor Arlington. The venue is spiffier and sunnier than you might expect. A simple pager system alerts when your entree is ready. Next time, I plan to try the vegetarian sampler, a whopping 12 choices with pita bread for $9.95. Amongst numerous vegetable dishes on display in the cold case, the tiny, inviting cubes of beet salad practically begged me to bring them home. Next time, ruby root melange, next time!

The flatware is large at Astor, so the enclosed pic will not do portion size justice. For a quick-served meal at this price point, a refreshing level of quality and preparation.

post-5654-0-99189700-1374518086_thumb.jp

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The three best things on the menu are the vegetarian sampler, that salmon (which get as a topping for the Greek salad), and the Egyptian pizza.  I also note that the online ordering system their website is great.

I can happily say that I got a non-Egyptian pizza that was every bit as good as the Egyptian: a Regular Pizza ($10.95) with red pepper, kalamata olives, eggplant, and mushrooms ($1.50 per topping) was a vegetarian's delight. I actually preferred this to the Egyptian because the jalapeí±os on the Egyptian are a bit much for me (after the 7th piece).

Astor, if you're reading this, your online ordering system does not have a checkbox for eggplant - thus, I had to order on the telephone. Also, get cho shit together, homies!

I would compare this pizza favorably with The Original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, Joe Squared in Baltimore, etc. - different styles, of course, but the same genre of pig-out pie, football pie, or whatever you want to call it, both being wonderful representatives of working-man's pizza without slipping into the foul depths of mass-production, sixteen-wheeler-delivery crap-o-la.

This pizza was expensive (over $18), but easily enough for two adults - eight bountiful pieces with a thick, bready crust, and very generous toppings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a quick word of praise for Astor. Three things especially: (1) the gyros with the crispy-charred-on-the-outside meat, plus tzatziki that blends with the meat juices to flavor but not overwhelm the pita. Mmmm. (2) the beet salad. (3) and the super-efficient online ordering for take out that allows me to make a last-minute decision right before leaving work or when the visit to the pumpkin patch went long. I also like the baklava. Meant to ask them where it is from.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...