Professional, unbiased reviews of all kosher restaurants located in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Eli's = 7.4/10 hamburgers

Harris, Josh and Adam, a friend, ate at Eli’s, the new restaurant which just recently opened up in Dupont Circle. The restaurant was started by Sina Soumekhian, the owner of Sienna's in Rockville (look for a review of this restaurant soon!). With the exception of the DC JCC, Eli’s is now the only kosher cuisine available in Washington, D.C., as Stacks, the restaurant formerly owned by high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff closed its doors a while back.

Food Quality: Harris, a self-proscribed meat-eating vegetarian, ordered an appetizer of chicken tenders to start, a salad, and then a turkey with avocado club sandwich. The chicken tenders were absolutely delicious and the meat was savory and fried to a mouth-watering finish. These are highly recommended, despite their price. Harris ordered a small salad, but was served one much larger than he expected. There were also several different choices of dressing, including honey-mustard as well as the traditional dressings. However, the waiter had to write out the different dressing types, since there was no listing on the menu. The turkey sandwich did not arrive for quite some time, well after both Josh and Adam’s food arrived, and Harris had to ask the waiter where his meal was. Similar to the tenders, the sandwich was also good, but the turkey was chopped up into small pieces rather than whole slices of turkey. While this may not bother most, it was certainly a unique style. Adam ordered onion rings as an appetizer, and a pastrami-burger for the main course. The onion rings came with the entrée, instead of as an appetizer, and Adam had to ask for more, because there were only 3 on his plate, and he had ordered an appetizer of onion rings, not a side dish. The onion rings were mid-sized and scrumptious. The pastrami-burger was tasty and cooked as requested, yet there were only a few slices of pastrami to add to the flavor. Josh, the “picky” one, ordered a chicken vegetable soup, a regular hamburger, well-done, and requested an overstuffed deli sub on rye with only pastrami and nothing else. The soup was quite savory, and included an interesting mix of flavor, and the small bits of chicken were juicy, rather than dry as most soup chicken tends to be. The hamburger and pastrami sandwich came at the same time, and the burger was similar to Adam’s, and eaten with no complaints. The hamburger order came with “shoe-lace french-fries,” which were cooked and tasty. However, the pastrami sub, despite all inclinations that it be “overstuffed,” barely even had much meat on it at all. There were also potato chips with the order, but as with the meat, only a small quantity of food was deposited on the plate. Josh had to send the sub back to the kitchen with the orders that the quantity of meat on the sandwich be doubled, at the very least. Once this order was fulfilled, the sandwich was acceptable, but no more scrumptious than any typical kosher fast-food restaurant. Unfortunately, there was no dessert menu, and while this may improve in the future, a mark must be detracted for this. 6 Hamburgers.

Service Quality: With regard to Josh’s overstuffed deli sub, since the menu did not list any deli items with just a specific type of meat except for the regular sandwiches, the waiter spent a good 10 minutes attempting to figure out how he could order this from the menu. Instead of just writing down “overstuffed pastrami-sandwich,” and saving time, it was necessary to explain very clearly that a “5th Avenue (overstuffed pastrami sub with mushrooms, vegetables, etc)” was being ordered, less the mushrooms, vegetables, etc. Once the waiter figured this out, he was able to bring the food quickly. The waiter suffered through the orders and returns, and was very gracious in his service, returning several times to ensure that all was well in Denmark. 8 hamburgers

Atmosphere: Overall, the experience could only be described as “quaint.” The restaurant itself was small to mid-sized, and had the feel of a European parlor. There were white stained windows which permitted individuals to sit by them and gaze outside, but did not do a great job of deflecting the sun as it set. The lighting was not great, but gave the room a smaller feel, perhaps adding to a personal touch. The tables were closely spaced, and the backs of our chairs touched those of the people behind us. The noise level was low, but there were small pockets of people having discussions. It was pleasant and certainly a nice selection for a couple to choose as a dinner meal. In fact, there was even a celebrity sighting. Haddassah Lieberman, wife of Senator Joe Lieberman(former Vice Presidential Contender with Al Gore for the 2000 elections), showed up with her daughter, perhaps for the purpose of eating a meal, or discussing the latest polls. 7 hamburgers.

Cleanliness: The restaurant was relatively clean, but could have used a new paint job. The outside of the restaurant was slightly unkempt and there was a banner indicating the restaurant, instead of an official sign, but perhaps this will change once the store gains direction. The tables were wiped down and there was new utensils wrapped in a napkin available for the meal. The bathroom was well-kept and scented. 7 hamburgers.

Price: The food was well within the realm of kosher restaurant fare, but the cost of sandwiches perhaps could have been a bit cheaper. The appetizers were a bit pricey, but could have served as large kids meals. The soup was cheap, $3 for a cup, and $4 for a bowl, but the bowls were not large. Add $1 for matzoh ball soup. The hamburgers were $7 and the sandwiches ranged between $9-13 depending on size. 9 hamburgers.

Overall, 7.4 hamburgers. Not bad for a brand new restaurant with a lofty expectations. If they fixed a few things up on the menu and hired an interior decorator, Eli’s could turn into another venerable kosher D.C. establishment competing with the likes of those in Silver Spring and Baltimore. (Review by Josh)

1253 20th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.

Map it



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent site and commentary. I look forward to reading more reviews. Keep up the great work!

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm definitely gonna try this restaurant out now!

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for establishing this site... very well done...

A few things:

1. Red Heifer is closed.
2. Goldberg's also opened a location near Royal Dragon and KosherMart (the old Katz) in Rockville.
3. Links to the restaurants' web sites would be great too. For example, Shalom/Max's/Signature catering can be found at

10:48 AM  
Blogger The Critics said...

Anonymous 10:48,
Thanks for your comments. We are aware of Red Heifer's closing. We will add updates when possble, including your suggestion for websites. Thanks again!

For anyone else, please feel free to post comments, personal reviews, agreements/disagreements with our reviews, etc. As long as your comments are in good faith, we encourage your feedback.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the site and the commentary. I look forward to reading more reviews. Incidentally, Eli's now serves a limited dessert menu of ice cream-like substance and chocolate cake. This was mentioned by the waitress, but was not listed in the menu.

One thing about Eli's that could definitely use some improvement, was timing. What I mean is that it took some time for the salad to be prepared and then the soup and main course were served too soon afterwards that I felt that I had to rush. If the salad would have been served sooner, and then the soup a couple of minutes afterwards, I feel I could have had a more enjoyable experience.
However, overall I was satisfied with the food, the cost, and the experience. I'm sure over time, as Eli's becomes more established, the restaurant smooth out the bugs.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just ate at Eli's and thought the food was pretty good, but nothing special. I had the Empire Blvd., which was supposed to be hot roast beef and turkey on grilled marble bread... fistly, it took forever for anybody to come over and take my order but the food did come quickly and I got my soda free b/c they forgot to charge me for it (and the waitress said they wouldn't). However, the food wasn't very hot, the bread was a bit soggy and I could barely taste the horseradish that supposedly was on the sandwich.

That being said, I will go back but hope that it gets better... I firmly believe a place like that can survive but they need to get better service. (Better service probably applies to most of the kosher restaurants I've ever visited.)

Thanks again to the folks who started this site!

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had a business luch at Eli's. Both my companion and myself enjoyed the meal and service immensely. Great location. Nice atmosphere. clean. Place was packed. Good luck.
One more comment for number 3- Red Heifer is open (It is closed from mid night!). I eat thre regularly.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

Restaurant won't last more than a year. Its food, while good seems prepared rather quickly and there isn't much thought given to presentation, and the service is at times very shady. The prices are good. But the restaurant seems caught between an upscale eatery and a fast food place. Lending to that is the Bar, that looks like it was taken from a Frat and just put there. 7.4 Hamburgers...maybe for the food, but the overall experience is worthy of a 6 on a good day.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had no idea you guys were doing restaurant reviews. Good work!

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good site! is the deal...eli's is decent and will likely get better with time... but it is sure better than nothing so please keep eating there people so that we do not lose another restraunt in dc...

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a visitor from outside the DC area who had the pleasure of dining at Eli's in October 2005. This is a wonderful kosher option for area residents as well as visitors to the District. I enjoyed a hot pastrami sandwich on rye for lunch, which was amply stuffed and a real treat. Service was great, waitress was very accommodating. The restaurant was filled with families. My co-diner, who is a vegetarian, was delighted with the selection of vegetarian dishes, a rarity in kosher fleishig restaurants, it seems.

9:18 AM  
Blogger mommish said...

Looking forward to trying out Ely's.

P.S. Sorry to say 921 is closed for good. Anxiously awaiting Chef Menashe's next restaurant!

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hate to say it, but this place isnt really good - food is subpar, restaurant is in need of a renovation and cleaning, and service not great (my take-out orders were messed up multiple times). I dont understand why they didnt put some effort into it and make it a NY style deli, that non-kosher eaters would be attracted to. instead, it doesnt even try.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous marc in fairfax said...

I used to work in Traditions and King David in NY. I know deli, I live deli, I eat sleep and breathe deli. Eli's is no deli. Go there for the chicken tenders, soups, salads and london broil - but not the deli. the size of their sandwhiches are one quarter to one fifth the size of your usual new york deli sandwhich and the bread options are limited to marble, no club or rolls. Beers are terribly expensive.

Let the MaitreDe serve you, lest you wait a lifetime for your food.

I eat their often and like it, but it took me a few trips to know what to order.

The london broil with a salad is a sure bet and will fill you with a quality meal at a decent price.

I wish them well and hooe they realize a good deli reputation is the way to make money in a city location like theirs. They could be THE washington kosher style deli with a little work.

For straight deli, I hit koshermart in rockville. 25 minutes from Eli's driving like a bat out of hell.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that Eli's closed recently. What a shame. I ate there fairly regularly whenever in town for business from Baltimore. Now what's left? The JCC? Krispy Kreme? Doesn't anyone see the potential here for something - even a community service? Why don't all of the frum people that work in DC (and I know there are hundreds) support places like this??

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We met our New York cousins at Eli's and were sooo disappointed. The food tasted like cardboard and was very overpriced. The portions were small and, if you weren't wearing a black hat with a long beard, you were pretty well ignored. The service was virtually non-existant -- my husband had to actually grab a waiter for service. The food came to over $150 for sandwiches, drinks and tip for 5 people -- you do the math! We'll never go back!

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should delete the previous comment. Eli's has not closed (as of today, July 5, 2006). It seems to be doing a decent amount of business, and the service is much improved from when it first opened.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Aron said...

How come the comments don't show dates?

Anyhow, I ate there in the summer of '06 and agree with Marc in Fairfax's review. The deli sub came on a supermarket (Harvest Pride) "sub roll" and the deli was very lightweight. Was not impressed. The rest of the food was pretty good.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow this review is disappointingly unhelpful - you all go on and on about service and timing but not a WORD about authenticity of flavor - I still hardly know if the pastrami was moist and spicy, if the marbled rye was on the mark, if there was tongue....
Mark from Fairfax had the only remotely useful and knowledgeable point of view here. Maybe he should start a food blog.
Now get serious!

11:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home