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Abu Nawas

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Holy crap how have I not posted a review?


This is now the ONLY place I will go in the DC area, it blows everywhere else out of the water. It's a true Iraqi cafe, run and owned by Iraqis and serving Iraqi style tea, Iraqi food, and really good nargile. Most of the customers are Iraqis but there are usually some non-Arabs there too. They have chairs and tables out on the sidewalk for outdoor smoking in nice weather.


Nargile: All KMs, mostly brass "café/sham'adan" models. Big bowls that last several rounds, and now they have an option for Coconara coals! They offer a limited range of Nakhla (DA, mint, Zaghloul, and one or two others), and a larger range of Fakher and Starbuzz. Nakhla is $13, and that's typically all I get. They mix DA and Zaghloul perfectly, such that it's smooth, rich, and lovely - that's usually what I get.


Atmosphere: Well, it's very legit - Iraqi guys drinking tea and playing backgammon, work by local Iraqi artists on the walls, Arabic music videos playing on a giant TV in the back. Very casual and low-key.


Food: I think all their food is catered, so what they have is not always consistent, but it's usually really good. It's all Iraqi food - one of maybe 2 places in the entire DC area you can get Iraqi food. Good stuff.  At a minimum they usually have shawarma and finger food, served with Iraqi bread, which is REALLY good. The owner usually gives me some dates or other Iraqi sweets on the house, but you probably have to speak Iraqi Arabic for that hookup  :D However, see if they have any special Iraqi desserts, because they're very distinctive. 


Drinks: STRONG IRAQI TEA is the thing to get here. When made right this stuff is knockout strength. Sometimes they use teabags, which is a big no-no, but when they're making it from scratch, it's great stuff.  They also have dried lime tea, very popular in Iraq, called "chai numi basra" - it's sour and refreshing.  Turkish coffee, Lebanese alcohol-free fruity beer sodas (Laziza), Vimto (imagine a fruity Dr Pepper), and as of now, a bunch of American soft drinks including the standard sodas, plus Nantucket Nectars, Honest Tea, and Snapple are also available.


Prices: Decent. They've gone up a dollar or two since they opened a year ago. Nakhla is $13, Coconara adds $1.80. They don't really have much of a menu, and you pay at the front where you just tell the guy what you had, so it's all sort of imprecise. To give you an idea, last night we had two nargiles with Coconaras, a HUGE pot of tea, 1 snapple, 1 laziza, a Turkish coffee, and a plate of sweets. The total was $46.


address: 3218 Old Pickett Rd
FairfaxVA 22030


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