Mar 29, 2024 - Food and Drink

Lush new Mediterranean restaurant replaces Mintwood in Adams Morgan

A bright purple beet and yogurt dip topped as dill with a round flatbread

Bright beet and yogurt dip. Photo courtesy Scott Suchman

Adams Morgan lost a neighborhood staple when Mintwood Place closed after a decade, but good news: Owner Saied Azali will open on Tuesday an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in its place.

Why it matters: Namak aims to be another neighborhood favorite with a mix of familiar mezze and lesser-seen Persian and Turkish specialties.

Flashback: Azali left Iran when he was 15 to come to the U.S. "I always missed the food," he tells Axios. Ditto for the vibrant vegetables and kebabs he ate in Turkey as a child.

A bright orange cocktail with a spiced rim and dried citrus (left) and sesame-crusted feta with mint
A harissa margarita and crispy baked feta. Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

Dig in: The team, which includes partner John Cidre from Unconventional Diner, tapped Turkish chef Tolgahan Gulyiyen to run the kitchen. Before coming to D.C., the Zaytinya alum cooked at high-profile Istanbul spots like Çırağan Palace Kempinski (aka, "The Grand Dame of the Bosphorous").

  • His menu — dinner-only to start, brunch coming soon — spans a variety of small plates, salads, kebabs, large-format entrées like whole fish or lamb shank, and a "dip & rip" section with homemade breads and spreads.

The vibe: Spice bazaar-chic. Mintwood's heavy woods and noise-enhancing tin ceiling are gone, replaced with Aegean-white walls, Moorish arches, jars of pickles and zests, and soft touches for a quieter room.

  • An outdoor patio will launch in the coming weeks along with weekend brunch.
A beef kebab on pita with grilled tomatoes, peppers and onions
Adana kebab. Photo: courtesy Scott Suchman

What to try: We have our eye on the flatbreads like spinach-feta pide and lamb-topped lahmacun; bright beet-yogurt dip and snacking salads.

  • Plus, plates that draw from family recipes. Take zucchini fritters from Iran, and a sour "torsh" beef kebab with walnuts, pomegranate, and herbs. Or the chef's home version of kisir, a bulgar-herb salad.

In your glass: Creative Mediterranean riffs on classic cocktails like a harissa-spiced mezcal margarita, plus Greek and Turkish beers and Med wines.

Between the lines: Azali knows about remaking neighborhood spots so they stay fresh. He owns what's now Perry's — going on its 40th year — above Namak, where he launched the city's O.G. drag brunch in the '90s (it's still dancing strong). Recently, he infused the kitchen with new talent, chef Masako Morishita.

The bottom line: "I'm a true believer in that you have to create a new environment and feeling for business to come back," he tells Axios. "The time is right."

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