Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Meat in a Box

dsc 0016There’s hardly a storefront on South Washington Street that inspires more curiosity than that of Meat in a Box. Mostly it’s the name of the restaurant that brings about that wonder. A bright orange-trimmed sign situated above a broad window offering glimpses of the restaurant bears those four promising words: Meat in a Box. Carnivores rejoice, vegetarians quake with fear, but could the name really suggest the type of food offered here?

The curiosities don’t stop at the door. A dining room of circus-like shapes and colors greets customers with bright orange walls, oddly shaped chairs, and an offbeat collection of Andy Warhol images. Behind a checkered counter, cooks juggle hot, crisp-edged pieces of pita bread between long sticks, and fire breathes on long skewers of meat placed one after the other on the grill.

The “Boxes” the restaurant’s name so tantalizingly alludes to are filled with pita-wrapped kebabs, and they live up to the moniker’s meaty promise. Golden cubes of marinated chicken, hearty chunks of grilled beef, and seasoned slabs of ground beef are each joined by wedges of tomato and big onion slices and wrapped tightly inside of warm pita bread. The wraps, foil-bound and served in small paper boxes, come with a cool yogurt dip and a potent green sauce to accent the spiced meat creations.

A box of two is an ample and affordable serving that ranges in cost from the $6.99 ground beef skewers to the $8.99 shish skewers of beef cubes and char-kissed vegetables like zucchini, pepper, and onion. Boxes of four ($12.99 – $16.99) and 10 ($31.99 – $41.99) are also available.

Surprisingly, vegetarians too can find a satisfying meal on the menu of a place called “Meat in a Box.” In forgoing the meat, diners can opt for the vegetarian wrap of cheese and black olives ($5.99 for a box of two) or the falafel wrap ($6.99 for a box of two). Both are served with mixed greens, onion, tomato, and a layer of thick and creamy hummus. The hummus is also available as a starter for $3.99, and a chilled serving of the chickpea dip comes quick to the table, ready to be smeared upon pieces of warm pita bread by eager diners.

The kebabs come unwrapped and unboxed in the “Rice Dishes” menu section, another entree variety. For a couple of dollars more than the box serving, two kebabs can be ordered atop a massive heap of fluffy, buttery rice, with sides of pita bread and a mixed greens salad. Ten such kebabs constitute a Family Platter ($34.99 – $44.99).

But kebabs aren’t the only thing that Meat in a Box doles out. The restaurant’s other Persian dishes, from the appetizers (like stuffed grape leaves and falafel) to the desserts (like baklava), go far beyond skewer-grilled meats.

Meat in a Box certainly piques curiosity, and those prompted by inquisitiveness to investigate further will surely find a satisfying meal at a bargain price within its quirky confines.

Meat in a Box is located at 312 S. Washington St., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-533-9070 or visit Restaurant hours are Monday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.