(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) The flagship location of a new Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant concept opened in Crystal City this week.
After some initial delays, Black Lime Café opened its doors at 2450 Crystal Drive on Monday. The quick casual restaurant serves a largely lunch time crowd, and owners tell us they’re encouraged by the response from customers so far.
Black Lime seeks to be to falafel sandwiches what Chipotle was to burritos. It allows customers to customize their meal, picking either a pita, salad bowl or baked potato (kumpir) as a base and choosing ingredients like falafel, black lime-marinated chicken, shawarma-spiced beef, grilled shirmp, several types of hummus, babaganoush, seasoned rice, grilled vegetables and a variety of other toppings.
Sides include chips and hummus, regular fries, eggplant fries, sweet potato fries, lemon chicken soup and a soup of the day. The beverage menu features a rose water lemonade and will eventually include beer, we’re told.
Co-owner Paul Stratmeyer said he and business partner David Levitt — who have experience building restaurant chains like Maggie Moo’s, Outback Steakhouse, Bennigan’s, and California Tortilla — have high hopes for Black Lime.
“The burrito market is kind of done. This is the next iteration,” said Stratmeyer. “Falafel is the number one selling sandwich in the world. It’s still a deep fried product, but it’s very healthy.”
Stratmeyer said he’s particularly proud of the food and the restaurant’s interior design.
“The food is where it’s at,” he said. “Our spice blend is unique, and it’s awesome. ”
Additional Black Lime locations will be opening in D.C., according to Stratmeyer. Other locations may be in the works for Richmond, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Colorado Springs. He and Levitt chose to open the first location in Crystal City in part due to the high concentration of military personnel in the area.
“We didn’t pick this spot by accident,” said Stratmeyer. “Lots of military guys who’ve been in the Middle East have tasted this food, they understand it. And they’re going to prove to us whether we’re doing it right.”
He said the restaurant will donate between $2,500 and $3,000 in partial proceeds from the first two days in operation to the Armed Forces Foundation.