Ambar - Arlington

4.6
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1961 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Tapas / Small Plates
Our aim is to put together the finest products of the New World and Old World for your dining pleasure. Perennially on the edge of great empires, the Balkans owes much of its food culture to its history, geography, and climate. The term Balkan is generally believed to come from the Byzantine word meaning: “a chain of wooded mountains.” With a desire to introduce Virginia to cutting edge Balkan cuisine, we created a dining space that will delight and indulge the senses. Primarily featuring “small plates,” Ambar also offers wines and spirits from the Balkans not often experienced by the American diner. Ambar showcases the best dishes from the Balkan Peninsula with a modern twist. These dishes are presented artfully, with modern combinations that deliver the flavor profiles in a unique way. Serbian natives Ivan Iricanin and Uros Smiljanic developed the menu with the help of Executive Chef Dejan Pilovic .
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What 1961 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.4
service
4.5
ambience
4.5
value
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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C
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined a day ago
Overall3food3service4ambience2

Dinner was at 7:15-7:30pm on a weekday, and the restaurant was VERY loud and crowded. The menu selection was very good, but I requested vegan options, but was disappointed to see that the “allergy” menu has menu items marked that were incorrect. One of the “vegan” dishes I ordered came out, and it was NOT vegan at all. I’m only eating vegan for a short time, and went to this restaurant specifically bc it said it has vegan selections, but was kind of disappointed with the variety, and left not really being sure what I ate. Once I’m done with the fast I might return to try the rest of the menu, since it did look promising. But if you have allergies or special food requests, maybe go elsewhere.

CD
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service4ambience4

The music was loud when we came in and the hostess kindly turned it down so conversation was easy to hear. We had our vegetarian son with us so tried many new things from our previous visits and had a great lunch!

AD
Orlando
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall3food3service3ambience4

The food was hit or miss. The meats on the Mezze Board were just ok, and the creamed corn tasted like a can of corn was blended and heated up. The spreads were delicious though, with the best being the beet Tzatziki. I was disappointed that the brunch menu was limited in terms of the Balkan food you could order. I didn't come to Ambar for waffles so, wish the full lunch menu was available to try.

MI
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall3food3service4ambience4

Been many time to both locations. Was somewhat disappointing this time:

-Food seemed rushed. Rice in mushroom pilaf was under-cooked, you could chew uncooked rice. Ustipci (deep fried sour dough) were doughy inside-under-fried.
-Size of the portions was a shocker-they shrieked since last time to a one bite size. Been several months since was here last night, but that was very noticeable difference.

Sean, our waiter, was very good.
Hostess at the door should dress nicer, sneakers and tight jeans looked unpresentable for the restaurant.

I don't know was it because it was restaurant week, or because it is holiday, but experience was below what I am used to.

B
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall4food4service2ambience4

Food was good. Service was awful. Manager stepped in to help and fixed most of the issues. Changed from a great server when were seated to a new server who either was not interested or simply incapable.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent food and atmosphere!

OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service3ambience5

Amazing food & wonderful restaurant!
Beware that you need to order 2-3 dishes to get a meals’ worth of food. Definitely better for a group dinner than a date. Overall wonderful!

MR
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our restaurant week meal was incredible. Favorite dishes: Bouyiourdi (eggplant/tomatoes/cheese/olive); sausage; veal soup; Balkan kebab; brussels sprouts with bacon.

We will be back!

C
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was an adventure in tastes. We had been in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Slovenia in October and ours had gone two years ago. We had a delightful time with foods bringing back memories of our time in those countries.

B
Washington DC
14 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Fantastic food, service and vibe! Our waitperson was very helpful with suggestions as this was our first visit! The cocktail options for the table was smooth, tasty and complimented the food. Dessert did not disappoint, as with everything else it was fantastic! We look forward to our next visit!

r
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall3food3service3ambience4

Food flavors were mediocre. Nothing worth ordering twice except the shrimp. Plates came out like 7 minutes apart. Waiter forgot an order of over 5 plates so we had to put it in 2 times. I never got to try the Brussels sprouts despite ordering it 2 times.

T
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This was an unforgettable dining experience. The Forest Gnocchi is the most incredibly complex and satisfying dessert that I've ever experienced. Our waiter Valentin made our dining experience even more incredible!! His knowledge of this regional cuisine and friendly disposition only added to this great evening!!

CM
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall4food4service3ambience4

Nice small plates menu, great drinks. If you’re lucky to get a good server (which we didn’t this time around), then it makes for a fantastic evening.

AF
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was a great first time experience and the food was flavorful. I will definitely be returning. I recommend also ordering the drunken Mussels, my favorite dish of the night.

t
Washington DC
8 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Group of five met during Restaurant Week.
Very happy with the experience.
Every course was good, as was the dessert.
It was busy, but service did well, given that.
One of us who spent some time in the Balkans said only part of it was authentic, but still a good choice.

p
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall4food5service4ambience2

My wife and I went on Friday of Restaurant Week. The place was busy but there were still some tables open. We were seated at a small table for two near the middle of the room and the noise was such that we had to almost shout to hear one another. We were early arrivers and even before the place started to fill there was annoyingly loud music being played.

OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

They had a reserved table for us since we used this app, we were seated immediately. Waitress was very nice and knowledgeable. Noise level wasn’t too loud, considering it was restaurant week. The menu is very large, there is something for everyone! Pricing is great for the quality of the food. The ambience really sets the tone.

CK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall5food5service4ambience3

Friends and I went to Ambar for happy hour. Service, drinks, appetizers and price were great.

DU
1 review
Dined on January 15, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Very unique creative food. The ability to smaple so many dishes is very special and made my night exciting.

OT
Indiana
1 review
Dined on January 13, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

I come to Ambar frequently. It never lets me down.

S
Greece
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall3food2service3ambience3

The food was not that good. The small plates are WAY TOO SMALL. I get that you can get unlimited ones but it's still ridiculous how small they are. Too expensive for what it is.

R
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The $35 deal is really great value for money! You can eat as much as you want and the quality of the food is fantastic! My favorites were the meat pie and the goulash! Mouthwatering. Beautiful restaurant and the service was brilliant! We'll be back :)

KB
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The ambiance of the restaurant is great. The decor is vibrant and chic. Despite being at a small table located in the middle of the restaurant, we did not feel too close or crowded to other guests. The food was amazing (we did the all you can eat small plates for brunch). It is definitely worth the money, especially if you are going to drink, because with the special, all brunch drinks are $0.25. Everything came out in a timely manner and was served fresh. Our server gave great recommendations and was very friendly. Will be returning!

M
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall1food4service1ambience4

If you are hoping to stay sober, you’ve come to the right place!

SO
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We loved the vibe at Ambar and finally understand why all of our friends who had come here were loving it. We did the all you can eat for $35 and were stuffed by the end. Some of the dishes were just okay but others were fantastic. Desert is not included in he all you can eat but we ordered it separately anyway and enjoyed it. We ordered the chocolate brownie (which is not a brownie at all but very good) but we were very curious about the gnocchi (no not the pasta) and asked the waiter about it. Even though we did not end up choosing that for our desert, the waiter brought it for us to try, which was really kind. We also enjoyed our drinks very much and want to try more cocktails from the signature menu. We will be back to try the brunch!

K
Washington DC
23 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2020
Overall4food5service4ambience5

The food is reliably excellent. Very very good. My only real hesitation to dining at Ambar is the parking, or rather the lack of parking. This time, I got lucky, but I have on other occasions had to circle and circle and circle. It would be very helpful if Ambar could work out a parking situation, any parking please.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 8, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

A terrific meal. Well done - we’ll look forward to returning.

OT
Miami
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food! The service was exceptional.

M
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Brunch was fabulous!

OT
Memphis
2 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great brunch!

TO
Baltimore
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall5food5service4ambience5

The food was great, location was convenient (I took a lyft so I'm not sure how parking is), and the servers and managers are friendly.

JP
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall3food3service5ambience3

Strong service, nice decor, but man....the food was so salty. We had approx 10 small plates (between the 2 of us) and had to drink a lot of water after the meal and through the night.

J
New Orleans
2 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience3

I love Ambar and frequent both the Arlington and DC locations. The food is amazing and ambience is nice. However, the Arlington location can be quite noisy when there’s a full-house. It can be difficult hearing your guests conversations even with close proximity. It’s an open concept with an elevated bar/table-top area. Also, seating in the open area can be tight, in general. It can be difficult ordering multiple items and having enough room to navigate. This is also true for the DC location. Besides the noise levels and space issues, the food is absolutely delicious and worth the visit every time.

CC
Washington DC
7 reviews