Several blocks right of the Dupont Circle Metro, Agora (1527 17th St. N.W.) is just what the neighborhood association ordered. Crafted to resemble an urban loft (think exposed brick walls and piping) with energy-conscious policies (99 percent of the building is powered by wind), Agora fits well into its hip, socially conscious environment.
No wonder the restaurant was absolutely packed on a weeknight. But it's not just the design or romantic ambience. The food speaks for itself.
Per its Mediterranean heritage, the resto dishes up a generous sampling of various small plates, which showcased a consistently fresh and healthy menu. In fact, a lot of the produce is directly farm-to-table. The Cacik was a good yogurt-based starter dip for the light, airy free flatbread.
We generously sampled from the left of the menu to the right. Standouts included the chef's borek (crispy phyllo roll filled with goat cheese, savory herb and crushed red pepper, served with tomato marmalade); crab falafel (jumbo lump crab, falafel and tahini), and the kibbeh (bulgur dumpling stuffed with ground beef, lamb, almonds and pine nuts over yogurt sauce).
Dessert and drinks were equally refreshing, including the bright, fruity cocktail Fig Delight -- Jose Cuervo, Patron Citronge, lime juice, agave nectar and fig. Also, the 2006 Argentine Malbec was also a nice companion for the meaty mezze plates. And for those who like raki, the Yeni Raki gives about a good a kick as any we've had, with very strong hints of black licorice.
All items were recession-friendly, with no food item more than $8.50 and drinks around $11.