Our Story

History

Under the direction of celebrated Chef José Andrés and his ThinkFoodGroup team, Zaytinya offers an innovative mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines served up in a sleek and modern setting. Building on José’s deep knowledge of Mediterranean cooking and years of research and travel, the menu features shared small plates of authentic and innovative fare, creative cocktails, and unique Mediterranean wines, making Zaytinya one of the most exciting restaurants in Washington. Since opening in 2002, Zaytinya ranks consistently as a top DC dining destination, and was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the 2017 and 2018 Michelin Guide to Washington, DC. In 2018, Zaytinya’s second location opened at The Star in Frisco, TX and has quickly become a local favorite.

What Are Mezze?

Mezze are the small plates of the Eastern Mediterranean, known regionally as meze, maza, or mezethes. Under the direction of James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés, Zaytinya's menu reflects the rich regional diversity of classical Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisines. Starting with authentic ingredients and traditional techniques, Zaytinya's talented chefs create original and unexpected dishes that bring these regional cuisines to a level never before experienced. 

Each plate is meant to be shared Often thought of as party food, the small plates style of dining encourages socializing- a drink, a little conversation, and a few mezze shared by friends and family. The experience allows everyone to sample a wide variety of excellent spreads and cheeses, vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood mezze, and creative desserts. Plus, traditional coffees and teas complete the experience. 

In addition, Zaytinya's wine list is the only in the U.S. to feature only the wines of the Eastern Mediterranean, including Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and Israel. This region has quietly emerged on the world stage to compete with the established wine producing countries, with tremendous variety, value, and quality. And there's nowhere better to taste them for yourself and learn why. Combined with an exceptional and creative cocktail program, the Zaytinya bar is a destination in itself. 

AWARD-WINNING CULINARY INNOVATOR

José Andrés

Named as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in both 2012 and 2018, and “Outstanding Chef” and “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, television personality, humanitarian and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. Andrés’ restaurant group includes 31 restaurants, ranging in a variety of culinary experiences from food trucks to his multi-location vegetable-focused fast casual, Beefsteak, and world-class tasting menus like Michelin starred minibar by José Andrés. Andrés is the only chef globally that has both a two-star Michelin restaurant and four Bib Gourmands. As a naturalized citizen, originally from Spain, Andrés has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform. Together with World Central Kitchen and #ChefsForPuertoRico, Andrés has served over 3.5 million meals in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, reaching communities in need across all 78 municipalities through 23 kitchens. Andrés has earned numerous awards including the 2015 National Humanities Medal, one of 12 distinguished recipients of the award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ZAYTINYA CONCEPT CHEF

Michael Costa

As the Concept Chef of Zaytinya, together with Chef José Andrés, Chef Costa offers an innovative mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines served up in a sleek and modern setting. Chef Costa oversees the Washington, D.C. location and the Dallas, Texas location, opening early 2018. Previously, he held the Head Chef position at Zaytinya in Washington, D.C. Throughout his time at Zaytinya, Chef Costa has cultivated and deepened relationships with local farmers and producers like Anson Mills and Jamison Lamb. Since Chef Costa’s start, the restaurant has earned two three-star reviews from the Washington Post, was named #9 restaurant in DC by Washingtonian, and was awarded a Bib Gourmand in the first Michelin Guide. Building on Chef Costa and José’s deep knowledge of Mediterranean cooking and years of research and travel, the menu features shared small plates of authentic and innovative fare, creative cocktails, and unique Mediterranean wines, making Zaytinya one of the most exciting restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Prior to his career with ThinkFoodGroup, Chef Costa attended culinary school in Dallas and studied under the school’s founder, Costas Katsigris, a Greek native and a mentor who inspired Chef Costa’s love for Greek and Mediterranean flavors. Next, he worked for Chef Kent Rathbun at Abacus in Dallas. From Dallas, Costa moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a Private Dining Chef at Citronelle under award-winning chef Michel Richard before moving to the Michelin-starred restaurant, Michel Rostang, in Paris to work as Chef de Partie. Once back in the U.S., Michael took an executive chef position at Pazo in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was nominated for "Chef of the Year" by the Maryland Restaurant Association in 2010.

CHEF PARTNER

Aglaia Kremezi

More than 15 years ago, José took a trip to Kea, Greece to meet with Aglaia Kremezi, Greek food writer and journalist, to discuss his newest restaurant project: Zaytinya. Although they had never met before, an instant friendship was born from their shared passion for authentic food. Cooking together in Aglaia’s kitchen, José took detailed notes and snapped pictures of everything to bring back to DC. Among many words of wisdom, Aglaia told José that he must always hand-roll phyllo and never rely on the packaged brands. To this day, all phyllo is hand-rolled at the restaurants, and Aglaia is affectionately referred to as the “Greek Grandmother” of Zaytinya.

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