Nestled in the vibrant Shaw neighborhood of Washington DC, the newly opened Ambar Balkan Cuisine introduces a fresh wave of flavor to the local dining scene. This delightful eatery is more than just a spot to satiate your cravings for Balkan flavors; it’s a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity right in the heart of Shaw.

One of Ambar’s highlights is its specially curated take-out menu, an ideal choice for solitary diners, picturesque picnics, or upscale event functions. On a personal endeavor, I ordered various items from the take-out menu to enjoy a Balkan feast from the comfort of my home. The selection included the enticing ‘Beets Tzatziki,’ a medley of hand pie selections, savory with either meat or cheese (or both), adorned with crispy phyllo dough and accompanied by a lemon garlic yogurt. Each bite was a tribute to authentic Balkan flavors, striking a beautiful balance between tradition and contemporary taste.

For the main course, the adventure continued with a hearty short rib goulash boasting braised beef simmered to perfection in red wine for five hours, paired with trophy pasta. The chicken stroganoff featured butter sautéed chicken breasts in a delicate creamy mushroom sauce with mustard and onions, served on silky mashed potatoes, creating a comforting yet sophisticated dish.

No meal is complete without a sweet ending, and the baklava alongside the chocolate cake provided just that. The flaky layers of the baklava and the rich decadence of the chocolate cake were the perfect finales to an exquisite meal.

If you want to be noticed, Ambar’s cocktail-to-go option is a winner. I reveled in the smooth blend of the Espresso Martini and the Ambar Old Fashioned, which has a unique infusion of plum, Rakia, bourbon, plum syrup, and bitters. Additionally, they offer local beers, a Serbian lager, and soft drinks like Diet Coke and Ginger Ale for a complete beverage lineup.

Upon stepping inside Ambar, you’re welcomed by a beautifully designed interior that promises excellent gatherings in the Shaw locale. The restaurant offers many dining options, including unlimited brunch, unlimited dinner, allergy-friendly menus, a full Rakia menu, an enticing happy hour selection, and more. It’s the brainchild of the seasoned Street Guys Hospitality, the force also behind Buena Vida, Burrito Madre, and Ba Ba. Their expertise in creating inviting dining spaces is evident, and with a rewarding loyalty program to boot, Ambar is not just a restaurant; it’s a burgeoning community hub.

Ambar Balkan Cuisine is more than just a restaurant; it’s a testament to the rich and diverse gastronomic landscape that Washington, DC, continues to nurture. This newest addition to the Shaw neighborhood is undoubtedly poised to become a cherished gathering spot for food enthusiasts and casual diners.