Monday, December 3, 2012


Combining shawarma and falafel, Shawafel is a "quick serve restaurant" on H St NE that serves chicken, lamb and beef mixed Shawarma in the traditional Lebanese way.  Other available items include spreads such as hummus and baba ghannouj, a sultry dip of fire-roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, as well as salad options with tabouleh made of parsley, bulgar wheat, diced tomatoes, onions, mint, and lemon dressing, and fattouch made of diced cucumber, tomato, radish, lettuce, onions, and pomegranate dressing.  Sandwiches run about $8 with platters about $11-13.  Closest Metro is Union Station.

All meat is bought from local farmers, then cut, marinated and skewered on the vertical spit.   A major vegetarian option is the cauliflower sandwich that is topped with lettuce, tahini sauce, pickles and fries. For the late night crowd, try the goersthe french fries sandwich.  Keith and I walked over for lunch one day and only one guy - the owner - was working behind the counter.  He greeted us, but continued to work on a dish for the previous customer.  I waited patiently at the register to place my order, but a group of older Lebanese gentlemen walked in and distracted the owner in conversation.  The owner politely acknowledged us again and asked for our order.  I stated what we wanted and again, waited by the register, expecting him to ring me up or something, rather he turned to continue his conversation with the other men.  Confusing! Do I pay first and then sit? Pay after we sit? What is the protocol? Keith nudged me and decided we should just sit at a table and simply wait.  I was rather uncomfortable, as other patrons soon came in, placed their order and paid.  I wanted to be sure we were not forgotten!  Shortly after, the owner called out our order and as I approached the counter with my credit card in hand, he simply told me to sit and pay after. (This is as he was ringing up yet another customer.) I could understand if those other patrons were getting their food to go - but not all were. Many sat next to us. I was perplexed. 

Regardless, we sat and enjoyed our lunch. I wanted to sample a bit of everything and did so with the veggie platter complete with falafel, fried cauliflower, tabouleh, hummus, baba ghannouj, pickled radish, and a side of their sliced flat bread.  For $11, I thought it was a bit overpriced, yet the portion was generous enough to be very filling.  Keith ordered the meat shawarma, a rolled sandwich of spit-roasted lamb and beef, parsley, tomato, pickles, mint, and tahini sauce.  He also ordered a side of fries that came heavily seasoned with their secret family spice mix. For $7.50 (+ $2.50 for the fries and a drink), his sandwich was a much better lunch deal..  After we finished eating, I returned to the register to pay my bill and the owner asked me how I liked it.  I told him "it was good", signed the receipt, and left as there were other customers in line behind me.  While the flavors were there and the food fresh, we prefer other shawarma/doner/gyro options in the city and felt Shawafel on H St NE was a bit over hyped.  Either way, Shawafel still has appeal for bringing a unique cuisine and late-night eats to the neighborhood.
Total Rating: 3.38
Food: 3.5, Price: 3, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Veggie Platter
Falafel, Cauliflower, Tabouleh, Hommus, Baba Ghannouj

Plus Keith ate:
Meat Shawarma
Spit-Roasted Lamb and Beef, Parsley, Tomato, Pickles, Mint, Tahini Sauce
Shawafel on Urbanspoon

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