Mama Ayesha's
Mama Ayesha's

Mama Ayesha's

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.mamaayeshas.com/
  • Phone: 202-232-5431
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Daily: 12:00pm - 5:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:30pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Executive Chef: Samir Abu-El-Hawa
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Beer, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Smoking Area (patio only), Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Contact: Mohammed Abu-El-Hawa 202-232-5431
  • Entertainment: Background Arabic music played during lunch and dinner.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Biltmore St
  • Public Transit: A few minutes walking distance from the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan/ Zoo Metro Station
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Parking Details: If you cannot find street parking you can use the metro lot which is next door.
A word from Mama Ayesha's
Founded by Ayesha Abraham, Mama Ayesha's opened for business in 1960. We are a family owned and operated restaurant serving authentic Arabic cuisine. Enjoy a fresh fattoush salad, some hummus, or some falafel to open you appetite. Main dishes include lamb, chicken, and beef dishes cooked over our charcoal grill. Or try one of our stuffed specialties such as our stuffed yellow squash or grape leaves. Plenty of vegetarian as well as vegan options also available. With dishes prepared daily from scratch you can be sure you're getting the closest thing to home cooking. We are glad to be moving forward into our 5th decade of serving the Washington, DC area. Many of our guests can tell you that when you’re here at Mama Ayesha’s, you’re family!
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Mama Ayesha's reviews from OpenTable diners
44 reviews since May 25, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.4
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
94% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (29)romantic (25)good for groups (19)fit for foodies (18)special occasion (16)great for lunch (7)great for outdoor dining (5)notable wine list (3)kid-friendly (3)great for brunch (2)scenic view (2)vibrant bar scene (1)Show More
  • Delicious!
    Muse
    Dined on 9/8/2014
    A great value with delicious food from the Middle East!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • great food and service!
    pkasa
    Dined on 9/4/2014
    I came here for a date and I must say that I have had one of the best dates ever. The food and wine was great and the server was extremely sweet and knowledgeable. I would definitely come here again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Attentive staff, delicious food
    Bigpoodle
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    We used to be regulars here when we lived in the area and it was the Calvert Cafe. About the only things that haven't changed are the location and the quality of the Middle Eastern fare. Mama Ayesha's is an upscale version of its former self, which was kind of a dive but one of the great bargains in DC dining. It is no longer a bargain but still a good value for the quality of the dining experience and the exceptionally well-prepared food, which in our opinion is better than some of its higher-profile competitors. Still miss the carafes of cheap retsina, though.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • An evening at Mama's
    PoppaZmurf
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    This is a wonderful restaurant with great Lebanese food. Nice selection, highly recommend the squash stuffed with lamb. The wine list is very good. There was a mix-up on our appetizer order but the manager made it right with no problem. The only marks off from perfect was that our waiter was a bit pushy, but not in an obnoxious way. I will definitely be back to this gem!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Washington's Top Mideastern Place
    thfields
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Mama Ayesha's is one of the iconic, classic restaurants in DC. It's been here for decades, and has a well-earned reputation as THE place for Middle Eastern food. My date (who has lived in the city much longer than I) had not been there in a long time. She said it was as good as ever.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Impressed an Egyptian
    FoodieReviews
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    Food and ambiance were authentic and impressive for the two of us, both of whom are very well versed in Middle Eastern cuisine. We especially loved the Malfoof Mahshi (tasted like his mom's) and the Mouzat.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Seems Authentic
    FrugalButNotStingy
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    We tourists from Kentucky had a fun meal for 4 at a great price. Each of us ordered something different. The best hit was Musakan, described as "Half chicken baked with sautéed onions, pine nuts, almonds and sumac served over toasted pita bread " - 16.00. The chicken was tender and the broth was perfectly absorbed into the pita bread. Sautéed onions were to-die-for. Rice, which accompanied all the other entrees, was spiced and cooked just right. All the servers were mature men who smiled very little, but the service was quick and efficient.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mama Ayesha
    Sithusgirl
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    This is the only Lebanese restaurant with food that tastes the way my mom made it. There has never been a meal that has let me down. Comments should include that the online menu is bigger than the actual menu. If you are craving something you see online, call and see if they will be serving it when you visit the restaurant. Also, parking is non existent. My husband dropped me off and ended up parking far away. Luckily it is a safe neighborhood for walking.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing
    SeanD
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    I have been a customer of Mama's from when she was alive & rolling grape leaves in the rear booth. Now, a general disappointment. Syrian bread could have been from Safeway, served room temperature with NOTHING - no butter, no olive oil with or without herbs. Servings were small considering cost. Service - like it was a new restaurant. Observed several incidents including me where food taken to wrong table - there are not that many tables. I ordered a side of Tahini with the Cauliflower appetizer plate. The small serving of CF came with no tahini, and they were almost cold by the time it was brought after reminding the server. 5-6 flower of CF for 6.50 or so. On the plus side the food was tasty. Overpriced with marginal but pleasant service.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Still great after 50 years
    Dbrown8302
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    We had eaten here in the 70s and returning recently, it is still excellent. The room and overall space have been updated but service and food are still outstanding. Worth the visit to Calvert street.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Friendly staff
    OpenTable Diner Since 2004
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    Server had good recommendations and friendly approach.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Neighborhood gem
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    It was a pleasure to visit this restaurant. Thanks for your hospitality and good food. The food was delicious and authentic. Something for every palate. Very friendly to us vegetarians!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 7/24/2014
    Loved the choices on the menu, everything looked great! I ordered the eggplant, ground beef, lasagna type dish, started with an M. It was perfect! The eggplant gave it great texture and the beef was cooked to perfection. The rice with it made it a perfect meal. The ambiance was superfun. This place is right around the corner from my house and I loved being able to stop in for a great meal and time!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Impressed foodie friend!
    Paddc
    Dined on 7/22/2014
    I took an out of town friend here for dinner who always enjoys ethnic food when she travels. We ate early, so it was quiet and we could catch up. Excellent food recommendation from the waiter (lamb shank). Love the decor of the restaurant also. There were a couple of large groups there also, so I'd consider Mama Ayesha's for a celebration as well as dinner for two. We both really enjoyed our visit to Mama's!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very Good
    bmillz
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    The meal was excellent and the service was v.ery good. Hassan was our waiter and he was very friendly, funny and professional. Overall, a great place to go on a date
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great for Iftar Dinner
    KPinDC
    Dined on 7/2/2014
    Had a small group of 3 expand to 8 and the staff was very accommodating. Since it was Ramadan and they knew we were fasting, they were very gracious and provided dates for everyone. The other benefit of Mama Ayesha is that it has a large vegetarian menu and is also Halal. Great for large groups with dietary restrictions.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • As good as it has always been
    nancychanVIP
    Dined on 7/2/2014
    I went on one if my first dates here over 40 years ago. Still wonderful. The smokiest baba ganouj ever. And other authentic dishes from the Middle East. Music is lovely and not too loud. We were there at 3PM and it was SOO quiet and we still had a wonderful meal.
    Special Features:
    romantic, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Enjoyable ethnic dining !
    MarthaCritiqueVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    Fantastic shish-kebab!! Enjoyed the environment, feeling like I was back in the sixties. Very friendly service!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Adams Morgan Gem
    BarbC
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    Mama Ayesha's has a great meditrainian menu with so many offerings, including vegetarian. We especially loved the stuffed squash. Serve was great, very attentive.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Delicious classic!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 6/22/2014
    Great ambiance and fantastic food do not disappoint. Delicious options for vegetarians (the lentils and rice are fabulous), as well as carnivores who like lamb or chicken.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • DC classic
    FormerFedVIP
    Dined on 6/22/2014
    My girlfriend and I figure we've eaten -- together, solo, or with others -- at Mama Ayesha's (or Calvert Cafe, as it used to be called) at least a hundred times over the past four decades. We've never been been disappointed. On our latest visit, the humous with lamb and sucumber salad starters were delicious as always. I tried the stuffed combination entree (lamb and rice in grape leaves, cabbage, and egg plant) for the first time and it immediately became one of my favorites. She got the dry couscous with lamb shoulder and liked it very much. We didn't have room for dessert. Service was very attentive and friendly. The pen that came with the bill was amusingly labeled "This pen stolen from Mama Ayesha's" -- making a great souvenir.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Special Treats and Great Eats!
    mfwb3515
    Dined on 6/20/2014
    We went for a Birthday celebration and had some of the best classic Middle eastern fare at Mama Ayesha's. The Tomato Salad with Feta was a perfect combination with the Kibbie and foole salad. The Lamb shanks were all that they should be. It was like Mama was watching over us from Heaven and making sure we had appropriate comfort food. Delicious. We tried a couple mixed drinks too. The Wild Tea Martini was terrific with a taste of St. Germaine ( sweet Elderberry Flower Liquour). Another star appetizer and perhaps one of the best bites was the grilled Lamb Sausage served over Mashed Potatoes... Truly a fine Fare Offering. We will go again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Amazing!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 6/19/2014
    I have been to Mama Ayesha's a couple of times before and love the service, environment and food! Each visit has been better and better!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Long time favorite
    Fussypalate
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    I have been owing to mama's since the mid 1960s, when mama used to sit in her booth with her telephone always nearby. My wife and I had our first date there in the 70's. What's not to like? It's a great restaurant with excellent food and service at reasonable prices.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good lebanese food
    neneitaly
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    Best baba ghanouj ever tasted. Good falafel, good lamb. The waiter (one of the two who served us) was a bit rude, looking away while we were asking questions or ordering food. Ambience is fine and food is the authentic middle-eastern. If you're looking for consistency in taste and original reciepes I would recommend this place
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 19 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 25, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.3
    • Food4.2
    • Ambiance4.4
    • Service4.2
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 343 reviews are from the Mama Ayesha's reviews archive.
  • Great food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    Love this place. We go when in dc. Staff are very good with our kids and the service is wonderful.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Reliably Great Food & Service
    Wilhoff
    Dined on 4/30/2014
    Mama Ayesha's has been a go-to restaurant for good Middle Eastern food and terrific service for many years. The waiters have been able to explain the meals well, make good suggestions, and have been sometimes been willing to change a menu item to fit our needs or number. What can we say but try it -- you'll like it!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Love this place!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/29/2014
    I went to the restaurant for the first time on my birthday. I would definitely return. The service was great the ambiance was beautiful and the food was delicious.
    Special Features:
    Good for Groups, Romantic, special occasion, Late-Night Find, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Favorite Lebanese in DC
    Andy123VIP
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    Always good food and friendly service, and very reasonable prices.
    Special Features:
    Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Easter at Mama's
    TheOriginalPearman
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    We love to find Mid-East cuisine in the cities we visit. Found the food here to be very good ;stuffed dishes especially worthwhile; baba was very good not great;taboule good lamb and okra entrée really good. Ambience real nice ; good looking in the old school style room ;bathrooms very nice. Waiter a tad grouchy but he had just dealt with a big party and ended up apologizing somewhat. Dessert excellent , arak super as usual Definitely recommend this restaurant for those who want traditional Lebanese style cuisine.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great Restaurant.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    We arrived a little early and were seated promptly. Service was excellent, friendly and very attentive. Food is ethnic, great taste and variety. Even the kids enjoyed it. We try and visit whenever in DC. Would definitely recommend.
    Special Features:
    Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • food portions
    YazanJordan
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    Im gonna start with the dinning and the atmosphere, they were phenomenal. The shocking part was the very small food portions. As I totally understand that the location maybe requires the prices to be a bit higher, but when I pay $16 Im expecting an entree, to get two pieces of (kousa mahshi) in a small plate is embarrassing. First of all I felt huge embarrassment infront of my guest that I brought with me after I bragged so much about the middleeastern food. Second, believe me when I tell you that I left the restaurant "hungry" and had to stop at another place to get a falafel sandwich. I was skeptical to pay another $16-$20 at your restaurant to get another "two-bite" entree. With all honesty, exuse me to say, that that was shameful.
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Good for Groups, Romantic, Great for Lunch, Late-Night Find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Bad service
    Jphh
    Dined on 4/18/2014
    The restaurant, food, and ambiance were great. I'm not sure if our waiter was having the worst night of his life, but we received the worst service I've ever had in a restaurant. I honestly did not want to leave a tip at all, but gave in. From the moment we sat down, our waiter said as little as possible to get our order and get us out the door. He didn't greet us, never smiled, and looked irritated that we were there. He barely answered any questions, and took one of our plates away while we were still eating! He just shoved the check on the table and left. I will never return to this restaurant.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Perfect neighborhood gem
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/16/2014
    Incredibly delicious appetizers and entrees! The service was fast, very friendly and helpful.
    Special Features:
    Romantic, special occasion, Late-Night Find, Neighborhood Gem, Hot Spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic Spot
    KKerr
    Dined on 4/12/2014
    I have eaten at Mama Ayesha's three times, and I have loved every single bite of food. The labneh appetizer is "other worldly" in its level of deliciousness. The chicken, lamb and beef kebabs are better than any I have had elsewhere in DC, and the side vegetables (and tumeric-spiced rice) complement the main dishes perfectly. I love this spot.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food, no parking
    Lloyd
    Dined on 4/10/2014
    This is a lovely restaurant to walk or take a cab too, but be forewarned if you want to drive and park! We spent over 20 minutes hunting for a parking spot, and finally found one a half mile away, down a pretty steep hill. The restaurant was quite understanding about why we were late for our reservation, and the food and service almost made up for it. Would come again- via cab.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • simply great
    mmqc4ac2
    Dined on 3/28/2014
    Great service, great food, enjoyed the portion size (general US portions I find too large), nice ambiance & reasonable price. I had the mix grill, the two others at my table had the lamb & okra stew & the lamb chop. Tried everything, all tasted clean and high quality.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good Levantine (Syrian/Lebanese)
    RG77VIP
    Dined on 3/28/2014
    Good Levantine (Syrian/Lebanese) food for DC standards, but like most other Lebanese restaurants in this city, it doesn't hold a match to what Los Angeles has to offer. Nice ambiance and good food compared to other Lebanese restaurants in the city.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great service and excellent food
    Saraha
    Dined on 3/21/2014
    We went to mama ayesha's for my husband's birthday and brought another family along with us at the last minute. The restaurant quickly accommodated our larger party - We had a total of 9 people, with 5 kids 5 and under. The restaurant was loud and lively enough to drown out the kids live voices, so we didn't feel guilty for ruining anyone's dinner. The food was outstanding, as always, and the service could not have been better. Very attentive and pleasant wait staff. They do not specifically cater to kids but our kids love the food and like the restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Total disappointment
    Restaurantcritic
    Dined on 3/16/2014
    We had high expectations of this restaurant since my niece recommended to us. But everything was a disappointment from service to food. We went there on sunday for lunch. The server was not very enthusiastic about serving us. The two good items on the menu that we liked were finished. I don't know what that means. When customer order something from the menu you are supposed to make it for them. The other food we had seemed like the leftovers from the previous night. They were not fresh. Your entrees are not money's worth since all you serve is one meat item and one carb. There was no salad or bread or anything. I still don't understand who are these people who gave you good reviews.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet