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all photos: Lauren Bulbin

More than 30 years a go the Popal family fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion, and found a home in DC, where they have since opened a number of (mostly French inspired) eateries: Napoleon, Malmaison and Cafe Bonaparte. Now, in 2015, with the opening of Lapis (which is at the old Napoleon location on 1874 Columbia Road NW), they are going back to their roots and the flavors they left behind, utilizing fully, for the first time, their number one culinary secret weapon: Shamin Popal, the matriarch of the family.


The new bistro is an airier and more family driven affair than the slick, slinky Napoleon, and with Spring and outdoor drinking being on everyone’s brain, it is bound to do well.


On the menu: both traditional family recipes passed down generation to generation, and modern plays on the Afghan dumplings, kabobs and stews, with good news for vegetarians: plenty of popular dishes in Afghanistan are vegetable centric. Don’t know what to try? (and the photos below may lead you to want to try EVERYTHING) Fret not: The restaurant will also offer a tasting menu, solving that particular quandry for you.