I like to try new cultures, and I am a firm believer that the easiest way to connect with another society is by sampling their food. As such, I thought it would be a fine idea to go and try Afghan Restaurant, the only one of its kind in the Alexandria area, and try to see what Afghanistan was like past the headlines. Unfortunately, this restaurant does not represent Afghani cuisine very well. I will first describe the building itself, because it seems you really can judge this book by its cover. The restaurant is just off of Jefferson Davis Highway, and is situated with a poorly maintained parking lot in its front. Pulling in, the only thing you see through the dark windows is a bright neon light that flashes OPEN, the only thing that would indicate that the restaurant is, in fact, open. Once you walk closer you will notice the tiles falling off of the roof, and the griminess of the windows. As you pass through the door, your only greeting comes from a man fiddling with a radio behind a desk. After you wait a while for him to finish, you may be seated next to the fake rocks, or perhaps by the kitchen door, where you will be handed laminated menus that are covered in dried foodstuffs. The other few clientele do not seem to even be Afghani, but rather businesspeople finishing up their lunch hour. There is the up side when you order, you do get a lot for the amount of money you spent, including rice and bread with sauces. Besides that, though, there is not much else good about this place. The food seems like a less tasty version of Indian food (not to sound insensitive to what are two very different cultures.) In fact, I would recommend going to the many good Indian restaurants of the Washington area instead of this place. Overall, this restaurant good do well with a good makeover, and maybe a new cooking staff. There is a demand for rarely seen cuisine in Alexandria, and that makes it all the sadder that this restaurant has botched nearly everything. I hope that some day I will be treated to some truly good Afghan food, and be able to enjoy this ancient and wonderful culture.
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