Eating at Lapis, like a 3am jumbo slice, is an Adams Morgan rite of passage. The Afghan restaurant knows how to draw a crowd. Occasionally that crowd is made up of comparative literature doctoral candidates 12 years into their dissertation, but don’t be fooled by the grad school funk. Dining at Lapis is, for lack of a better phrase, a vibe.
Pairs on first dates sit at tables atop red Persian rugs as a mix of '70s R&B, jazz, and classical music hum in the background. Grab a seat downstairs in the early evening to avoid the crowds, or do brunch on the weekend with friends where the Lapis pancakes made with rosewater and cardamom live up to the buzz. You can also skip eating altogether and head downstairs to the tabletop bar where a nonchalant post-work crowd sips cocktails made with thyme, masala bitters, and cocchi vermouth.
If you are getting food, order family style to sample as much of the menu as possible. Because why choose between the leek dumplings on a bed of saffron and garlic cream sauce and the tender lamb shank drenched in smoky tomato stew if you don’t have to?
There’s just no way to go wrong at Lapis, unlike a night at Heaven and Hell, and we’re thankful for that. The restaurant brings together everything we love about dining in Adams Morgan: good food, good company, good style, and a killer playlist to match.
The pumpkin bolani is served at brunch with a sunnyside egg or at dinner with a yogurt and chutney dipping sauce. The Afghan flat bread stuffed with a pumpkin puree has a crispy shell that breaks open to reveal the warm, tender filling. Like a savory pumpkin pie, but better.
There’s no bad choice when it comes to the dumplings at Lapis. But if we have to choose, the leek dumplings stuffed with the green vegetable, plus split peas and beef, are our favorite. Swirl them around in the garlic sour cream before aggressively popping a whole one in your mouth.
This signature dish is based on the owner’s old family recipe. The meat is tender enough that you don't need a knife. And it’s drenched in a creamy tomato broth that’s so well seasoned, you’ll gladly steal spoonfuls from someone else's plate if it means getting one more taste.
These pancakes are not just beautiful to look at but great to eat, too. There’s a subtle smokiness from the cardamom that’s balanced with the rosewater syrup. It’s a distinctive dish that brings together everything we love about eating here: flavor, style, panache.