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Cafe 8, 8th and D Streets SE at Barracks Row - Turkish with a Wood-Burning Pizza Oven


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Couldn't find a thread for Cafe 8 so...here goes.

Cafe 8 occupies the old Ellington's on Eighth and they have done a great job of redoing the space, creating 3 seperate but interlocking dining areas...a place that you hope will survive, because it's friendly, reasonably priced and, well, as we all know, Capitol Hill can always use better dining options.

Unfortunately, my small sampling last night was mediocre at best.

First the highlight: The red lentil soup was darn tasty on a chilly and rainy night, hearty with a little kick of pepper. Served luke warm, but still good to the last spoon.

Middlelights: We went with a sampler of 3 mezze, hummus (dull, needed more life, lemon, garlic, tahini something!), spinach and feta puree thing (again, dull, lacked salt), baba ganoush was the best of the three with a nice smoky flavor.

Lowlights: The bread/pita...they serve fluffy style pita and our first batch was either stale or it was reheated in the microwave because after a couple minutes it had that hard around the edges quality you get when you reheat bread products in the microwave. Our second batch was hot and soft.

I'm not going to give up on the place and would like to sample more of the menu...with some tweaking of the seasoning all three meze would have received a rave review...but the seasoning sucked.

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Cafe 8 occupies the old Ellington's on Eighth and they have done a great job of redoing the space, creating 3 seperate but interlocking dining areas...a place that you hope will survive, because it's friendly, reasonably priced and, well, as we all know, Capitol Hill can always use better dining options.

Do they serve beer/wine or liquor?

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Do they serve beer/wine or liquor?
Yes, they have a full bar, and a selection of moderate priced wines, including some Turkish bottles. http://cafe8dc.com/Menu.html

I agree with Tweaked regarding the mezze seasoning--the skordalia was surprisingly blah, and the cigar borek aren't particularly memorable. Meyhane had much better mezze. Where Cafe 8 shines, in my opinion, is in their pides--they're tasty, large, and bargain-priced. I also have had the Doner Kebab, and it was also decent. It gets pretty loud inside, but I'm looking forward to dining on their back patio when it's a bit warmer.

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Do they serve beer/wine or liquor?

Yes, yes, and yes...full bar, house cocktails, assortment of middle eastern beers. We had the red sangria (red wine, brandy, and "spices") tasted like a mulled red wine but hit the spot with last nights rain, was $16 for one of those mini half liter pitchers, which was perhaps a tad pricey.

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One of my other friends who also lives on the Hill had been to Cafe 8 a couple of times and kept suggesting I go. Last night I finally got my chance and I wasn't disappointed!

We arrived around 7:30 and were able to grab a seat out on the patio to enjoy the spring/summer weather. Service was good and attentive without being intrusive. Our bread stayed soft during the meal, unlike what Tweaked mentioned above, and the dipping oil with spices to go along with it was quite tasty (although after eating that I was always afraid I had spices stuck in my teeth).

We started with the Baba Ghannouj and it is definitely a very smoky version of the dip. I liked it, but it seemed different to me than Baba I've had elsewhere (although to be honest, I can't remember the last time I ordered it anywhere else). For mains I had the Pastrima Pide (I think that was the name since it's actually not on the website). The Pides almost look like a thin calzone with a split up the middle. A good amount of food for the price, but certainly not overwhelming. The Pastrima had Turkish dried beef, tomatoes and Kaser cheese. My +1 had the Sausage Pide (Traditional spicy sausage with roasted peppers and onions over Kaser cheese) and although his was certainly very good, we agreed that mine was the winner of the two.

It's definitely a cute and affordable place to have on the Hill and I'm looking forward to returning!

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I should also give an update:

Returned with my parents and had a much better experience. They were offering a mussel special which included a shot of ouzo in the broth and it was excellent...doner kabob was satisfactory (no where near as good as the version served at the much missed Anatolia!), Dad had beef kabobs which were solid and Mom had lamb chops which were good.

and the bread was nice and soft and fluffy and warm!

Cafe 8 is a nice addition to the neighborhood...I feel like it will end up being one of those places where you learn where the landmines lay, find a handful of dishes which they do well and add to your rotation for a decent meal at a decent price.

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Bad experience tonight at Cafe 8. Arrived about 9:15, took a seat in the bar area, which was less than half-full. Sat for 15 minutes as staff passed by me and didn't offer water, menu, drink, anything. Instead, the bartender and a couple of staff members goofed off with one another directly in front of me, even as they looked at me with my table obviously empty. Walked out, went to La Plaza. I can understand if they were absolutely slammed for business, and short-staffed, but that clearly wasn't the case--one waiter seemed to be wasted, repeatedly dropping items; the rest seemed to be suffering from severe arrested development. Simply inexcusable. :lol:

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We went looking for brunch on 8th street Sunday and found our pickings slim. My father had recently had a good meal at Cafe 8 so we headed over. I was ready for a mediocre to okay meal but was happily wrong. There were no other customers (it was 11:30am) so service wasn't a problem. We started with the spread sampler of white bean hummus, a kalamata olive/feta spread, and a spicy red pepper spread. All three were surprisingly good and the red pepper spread had quite the kick. It was served with soft, fluffy bread.

For my main I had the spinach pide. Again surprisingly it was great! The pide was not over loaded with toppings and the bread was soft and chewy. My aunt's veggie pizza was also a pleasant surprise. The only real disappointment were by father's dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). They were bland and not worth the stomach space.

All in all a pleasant surprise.

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We went looking for brunch on 8th street Sunday and found our pickings slim. ...I was ready for a mediocre to okay meal but was happily wrong. ...

That's good news. Haven't tried this place, but will consider it with your endorsement.

Next time you are in the neighborhood and looking for brunch, I think both Montmartre and Belga excel in that category, at least when it is under 100 degrees out.

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That's good news. Haven't tried this place, but will consider it with your endorsement.

Next time you are in the neighborhood and looking for brunch, I think both Montmartre and Belga excel in that category, at least when it is under 100 degrees out.

Agreed, both Belga and Montmartre are great choices. They tend to be a bit pricey though and we were looking for a more affordable meal. Incidentally, Belga's outside seating was packed with post Race for the Cure participants despite the ridiculous heat.
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Just got back to Cafe 8 last night and was reminded that I should head there more often. The host was extremely nice and friendly and seated me right away (despite the fact that I was 15 min early for the reservation and was still waiting on 3 people from my party). The waitress wasn't quite so on top of things, but she didn't really detract from the meal at all.

They were unfortunately out of two of the French white wines we asked about, but the third they did have and it was really quite good. It's a limited wine list, but extremely affordable (ranging from about $24-40 or so).

All four of us ordered pides (two spinach and two sausage) and everyone really enjoyed them. They now come with little salads, which was only really lettuce, tomato and onion, but I don't believe it had this when I went back last May, and it was a nice addition. The pides were larger than I remembered, and all of us took about half of ours home since we were stuffed after the bread and dipping sauce to start. The pide dough is really tasty...I almost liked the ends with more bread and less filling than some of the middle part!

I noticed on the way in that they had a brunch menu in the window, but I forgot to look at it on the way out. Not sure if it's traditional eggy stuff or has some Mediterranean flair.

One caveat: the online menu, while similar, is not an exact match to the restaurant menu, so just don't be shocked if you had something in mind that isn't served when you get there.

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Stopped in yesterday on a whim. The back patio is very nice and much more quiet than the front patio seating. Red lentil soup is very nice, as described up-thread. The server said they make their own bread, which was really delicious. It is served with dipping oil/zaatar. Pide was large, big enough to share. The service was friendly. This is a pleasant neighborhood spot, a good altermative to the long waits at Ted's Bulletin if you need a quick lunch.

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