Arlington / Balkan / $$$$*
Consider yourself a gastronaut? Do you thrive on trying new flavors with abandon? This is the place for you.
Small-plates experiences can get expensive. The beauty of Ambar is a set price that allows you to sample anything you want on the menu. Portions are mostly dollhouse-sized, but that just means more variety. With 40 different items on the menu, this is a mix-and-match meal that will never be quite the same twice.
Even better? The cuisine is a blend of Balkan flavors with fusion preparations that you won’t find anywhere else. Just look at the grill-singed pork neck, a tender portion of pig that’s blanketed in miso-mustard-tarragon sauce, dusted with bacon and peanuts, and placed atop a potato gratin.
Looking for something more traditional? The beef short-rib goulash, served blended with trofie pasta, is grandmother food at its finest, with shreds of tender meat that meld with red wine and mirepoix. Even if you taste something that doesn’t excite you, at Ambar, you’re always just a few minutes away from your next favorite thing.
See this: The plant-filled upstairs is great for a group. For date night, ask to sit in the speakeasy-style downstairs.
Eat this: Steak tartare, beef short-rib goulash, pork neck
Service: Small plates fire out of the kitchen and make it to your table with amazing efficiency.
When to dine here: You’ve got a group open to trying a wide variety of foods from an underrepresented cuisine.