Shemali’s

Rating: ★★★★☆

12656356_10153939551893011_12917479_oShemali’s is a Lebanese cafe and grocery store located at 3301 New Mexico Ave NW inside a small mall. The cafe itself is a friendly but rather spare place aside from the beautiful pictures of Lebanon on the walls. They have tasty Lebanese food in the cafe, like fattoush, hummus and shawerma (though I think the shawerma itself is really just ok- I used to live a couple blocks from Shawerma Reem, the best shawerma place in Amman, Jordan, so I’m pretty

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Fattoush, hummus and Turkish coffee.

spoiled). The cafe also serves pretty good Turkish Coffee. In addition to Lebanese options, the cafe has Greek food like gyros and greek salad (because people are silly and assume that all Mediterranean food is the same, so this stuff sells), as well as options for the even less adventurous sort, like deli sandwiches and half smokes.

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Shawerma platter with rice.

In some ways, I like the grocery portion even more than the cafe portion. The grocery carries a wide range of Lebanese products at generally very reasonable prices, including mamouls, ground coffee with cardamom, tea, dates, rosewater, and olive oil soap that smells amazing. The grocery also has a deli counter that has delicious hummus, labne, kibbeh, spinach pies, baba ghanoush, and baklava among other things. This is a great place to buy a bunch of food for hors d’oeuvres if you’re hosting a party.

 

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The grocery/deli section.

You might just leave this place singing a Fairouz song in your head:

Pleasant Pops

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

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Pleasant Pops is a cafe and market located at 1781 Florida Ave NW (there is an additional Downtown location at 731 15th Street NW). It is an ideal cafe to work in, with plentiful outlets, good WiFi, and friendly staff. I am personally not a big ice pop guy but they do have an innovative list of flavors, including Mexican Chocolate, New Orleans Iced Coffee and Strawberry Ginger Lemonade. They also have a full list of the standard coffee drinks, plus a light food menu and a small grocery section of artisanal products and upscale dairy products like farm-fresh organic egg and local products. One of their more interesting set of items is their hot pops, basically flavored chocolate bars on a popsicle stick that you dip and stir into

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Lavender lemonade.

hot milk to make a hot chocolate. You can either have them there or take wrapped hot pops to make at home. I ordered the Mexican chocolate hot pop, but instead of regular hot milk, got a shot of espresso in it. My drink arrived as a beautifully made latte with the hot pop on the side. Getting the hot pop to mix properly into the latte in order to make a mocha was, however, a bit of a challenge. By the time I had fully stirred the chocolate in and made a total mess, the drink was still warm but not quite as hot as I would have liked. The spice in the Mexican chocolate was a bit harsh for my taste. But I give them points for what’s a cute concept, and I will try it again to see if I can make it work a bit better next time. I also had a lavender lemonade, which was delicious, if a touch too sweet. On balance, I think this is a really nice place- more creative than the average cafe, and a good place to work or just stay awhile.