Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lilit Cafe Review

On my last D.C. trip of 2016, I had less than 24 hours to check out new restaurants or visit old favorites. I decided to use the time to trek up to Bethesda (via the red line Metro) to finally pay a visit to a gluten-free friendly restaurant that I have only heard good things about for years.

A little off the beaten path (especially on foot), Lilit Cafe proved to not only be worth the journey, but a place I regretted not coming to sooner. With oodles of gluten-free options and a staff that went above and beyond when it came to friendliness and allergy knowledge, this is definitely a must-visit for those visiting or living in the area. Eating out should be as effortless as Lilit Cafe makes it, and it goes above and beyond to be both a restaurant and convenience store for gluten-free eats.

When I first stepped into Lilit Cafe, I definitely was overwhelmed by such an extensive menu. Gluten-free diners can choose from pizzas, entrees, sandwiches, and more for savory eats, and can choose among croissants, baklava, and authentic gelato (among others) for a sweet treat. Check out their menu right here to get an overview of all the options. Gluten-free pizza crusts and bread are available to make those items gluten-free. Additionally, the gluten-free menu is marked to indicate vegetarian, vegan, and dairy-free items.

While having gluten-free options is amazing, what matters as much (if not more) is gluten awareness by the staff. After speaking to them, I definitely felt comfortable with their ability to handle gluten-free diners, and love that the owner decided to offer gluten-free fare because he saw firsthand the struggles of his own friends and family members to eat safely. 



Beyond the menu of prepared items, Lilit Cafe offers a dazzling array of gluten-free pantry and frozen products. Pastas, crackers, breads, sweets, and more are stocked, with several local producers featured prominently. Baltimore-based Sweet 27 (my review here) is represented heartily with their full line cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies on display. Croissants from D.C.-based Rise Bakery (my review) are in the freezer section, but are not dairy-free. As another local spotlight, Virginia-based Triple Oak Bakery's gluten-free baklava (another dairy-containing item) were displayed prominently. 

It was truly amazing to see such a great mix of products from local and national brands alike. It's a rarity to be able to eat out and cross items off the grocery list at the same time.



For my meal, I decided to order the chicken kabobs, which come with basmati rice and side salad. I decided to get take-out as I needed to catch a train from Union Station in an hour. Before I could even take my first bite, I knew the meal would be delicious from the tantalizing smell that tempted me as I rode the Metro from Bethesda to Union Station. I got several compliments along the way from curious fellow travelers who were intrigued by my meal.

The chicken kebobs were tender and well-seasoned, with tasty grill marks. Marinara sauce allowed for tasty dipping of the chicken, and contrasted well with the spices used to flavor the meat. The salad was fresh, with a zesty balsamic vinaigrette to dress it. The rice was fluffy and fragrant with peas mixed in, which provided a nice neutral item to offset the salad and kabobs. Overall, I found the meal flavorful, satisfying, and affordable.



Lilit Cafe wowed me with their food and selection of gluten-free items. However what will bring me back is the dedication and friendliness of their staff. They were patient as I debated what to order, and really cared about me as a gluten-free consumer. It's rare to find a place with both understanding and options, and Lilit Cafe has plenty of both. Dining here was a treat, and I am already anticipating my next visit.

Update 3/20/17: On a second visit, I ordered the gluten-free crab cakes, which come with a side salad and basmati rice. The cakes themselves are delicious, with a crunchy outer layer and lump crab-dense interior. I don't like my crab cakes too mayo overloaded, and this one struck the right balance of mayo, bread crumb, and lump crab. It was divine dipped in cocktail sauce for added zest. As sides, both impressed as the salad was fresh and the rice perfectly steamed. 



I also picked up one of the full cakes that Lilit Cafe stocks from Sweet 27, a bakery in Baltimore (my review). The cake was one of the best gluten-free cakes I have ever had, intensely decadent and rich with a perfect moist crumb. It featured a thick layer of frosting on top and in the middle of the two chocolate layers and on the exterior sides that frosting was coated with chocolate crumbs. It easily lasted almost a week, and did not loose any of it's texture in the fridge- which usually dries out gluten-free baked goods.



The Basics

Address: 7921 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814
Website: www.lilitcafe.com
Cuisine: Pizza, Middle Eastern, Sandwiches
Ideal For: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
Price: See prices on menu above
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible
Special Features: Sign up for their email list to get specials sent right to your inbox


Disclaimer: This review is based upon the information I have at the time of the review and does not reflect changes in ingredients or availability of items. Please contact the restaurant directly for up-to-date information and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I was not compensated for this review and it is a reflection of my personal opinion.

Lilit Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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