Food is one of the best ways to learn about and experience other countries and cultures. That’s certainly the case at Maydan (1346 Florida Ave. NW), one of D.C.’s newest restaurants. The concept opened November 21 and embraces recipes and cooking techniques from a hand full of countries including Morocco, Turkey, and Georgia.
The word Maydan fittingly translates into “town square,” and the restaurant layout certainly lives up to that name. The open dining room and bar is both bustling and cozy, making guests feel like they’ve been transported from the streets of D.C. to a gathering place halfway across the world. At the center of it all is an attention-grabbing hearth, which is used to cook just about everything on Maydan’s varied menu (it also does a pretty good job helping to heat the space on cool winter nights).
Maydan is a project from the team behind nearby Compass Rose, which also serves a global menu of shareable street-food inspired plates, wines and cocktails. Like Compass Rose, dishes at Maydan are designed to be shared. The vibe is also equally as fun and full of energy. The best course of action would be to come with a date or group of friends who won’t mind filling up the table with an assortment of plates and tasting around.
Now, let’s get back to that fire. That is the life source for Maydan’s flavors. Ingredients are doused with some spices and thrown on the flame for a smokey, roasted flavor. The seats downstairs are the best in the house, as chefs dance around the cooking station, throwing meats and seafood on the hearth as orders come in.
Navigating the menu can seem daunting, but the flavors are accessible to a variety of tastes. Nothing here should be too weird for anyone. It’s also far from boring. Choices range from whole shrimp ($18) and sardines ($18) to slices of baby eggplant ($9), carrots ($9), and a selection of meat skewers. Large appetites can order a whole ribeye ($50) or lamb shoulder (around $100) for sharing. Another excellent option is the whole roasted chicken ($35). It comes from inside the kitchen but is no less tasty. It’s juicy and filling with just the right amount of char.
No matter what you order, don’t miss a chance to taste a few (or all) of the available condiments. Options like spicy harissa and a garlicky toum can be ordered for $1 each to punch up flavor and seasonings. Everything is tied together by the restaurant’s soft, pillowy bread.
Beyond the food, be sure to check out Maydan’s selection cocktails. They use local spirits—including gins from Distrtict Distilling and Green Hat—paired with exotic ingredients such as Turkish coffee, cardamom and black tea. A good bet is the Filfuli (nicknamed “Pepper), made with mezcal, blood orange, ginger, paprika, honey and soda. For something stronger, try the Jagal, or stud. It’s a blend of scotch, amaro, mint atyr, and black team. A selection of local and U.S. craft beers and international wines round out the beverage menu.
As an added bonus, the restaurant will take reservations. That’s a big plus for anyone who’s waited hours for a table at Compass Rose. Whatever direction you go, Maydan is primed to deliver a night out away from the norm.
Maydan is located at 1346 Florida Ave. NW, at the end of the alley. Kitchen hours are Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bar is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.