all photos: Stephanie Breijo
all words: Riley Croghan
I’d wager that about half of you reading already know all about Agora (God knows we’ve waxed lyrical about it before-ED). The Dupont Circle tapas restaurant opened several months ago and draws a large dinnertime crowd. The space was previously home to Jack’s bar (and restaurant), but Agora has managed to fill a niche very nicely in a neighborhood with no shortage of dining options.
The other half of you are probably only just learning that Jack’s is gone. We know, we know! But life does move on, and in this case it does so in a very satisfying way. While Agora is very much a restaurant with a bar, rather than the other way around, it’s also a great spot to go with several of your friends.*
To that end, Agora has just opened an additional dining area upstairs, available to be reserved for large groups, and also serving as overflow on nights that it has not been reserved and the dining area downstairs is full (which is often).
Agora serves its Mediterranean fare tapas style, and if you bring a few friends who are cool with sharing you’ll have a chance to try just about everything you want to on the menu. BYT has a few of its own favorites:
We’d be remiss to even suggest you might go to a Turkish/Greek restaurant and not try the hummus (which is of course traditional and very tasty), but our favorite spread was the Htipiti, made of roasted peppers, feta, thyme and olive oil (which, like all of the olive oil in the restaurant, is imported from owner Latif Guler’s family farm in Turkey).
Also, be sure to check out the Kibbeh, a ground beef and bulgur dumpling stuffed with beef, lamb, and pine nuts. Served with a yogurt sauce, this tastes surprisingly like falafel, albeit one not safe for vegetarians.
Our favorite guilty pleasure of the night is the Chef’s Börek, a goat-cheese stuffed phyllo roll with herbs and red peppers, served with a cherry tomato marmalade that is just the right amount of sweet without making the dish too rich.
Finally, while Agora’s drink menu is comprehensive, we recommend one of the bar’s flavors of raki, the national drink of Turkey. The drink has a strong anise flavor and turns from a clear liquor into a milky-white concoction when mixed with water. We also recommend the Turkish coffee, but will not be held accountable if you can’t sleep after ordering it for dessert. It is served about the size of a shot of espresso, but with an even stronger concentrated coffee taste and kick of caffeine. For Turkish coffee newbies (no need to be shy, as DC unfortunately doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for a good cup of the stuff), the chocolatey sludge left at the bottom may look a bit tempting but isn’t intended to be consumed.
We totally did not find that out the hard way.
*There is no graceful way to eat Mediterranean tapas. Just don’t worry about it, and embrace the fact that during the meal, you will be getting flakes of phyllo dough all over you. And it will be delicious. Whether this makes Agora a great or a not-so-great spot for a first date, we will leave to your judgment.