Stepping into Maydān takes you on a sensory journey. You enter what feels like a secret door, tucked away in a D.C. alley, and immediately enter a fiery restaurant with pulsating warmth.
That’s due in large part to the open wood-fired hearth that sits at the center of the dining room and serves as the main source of heat for cooking everything from kebabs to whole roasted chicken or cauliflower and lamb shoulder.
But it’s also because of Christina Shoults and her hospitality team. She is Maydān’s director of operations and the one who keeps the book to this red-hot restaurant.
In fact, Maydān is lit on any given night. The sound of crackling fire mixes in with Lebanese rock music. As you sit and savor Georgian or Syrian wine, the rush of the fire comes to your table with a platter of shared dishes, from smoked halloumi to charred cabbage, whole roasted chicken, and hearth-kissed Tunisian olives.
The experience transports you from North Africa to the Mediterranean and Middle East and beyond the Caucasus region. It also evokes owner Rose Previte’s ancestral home of Lebanon, with plenty of people-watching thanks to a double-tiered dining room.
Over time, Maydān has won praise from a president (it’s a date-night option for Barack and Michelle Obama) and other discerning diners (retaining a Michelin star since 2019). But what keeps regulars coming back for more is the fiery passion of its team, devoted to the details of hospitality, as well as the enormous four-course Tawle menu.
It is no wonder securing a reservation can be tricky. So, we went straight to the source, speaking with Shoults, for all the hot details on how to secure a booking at one of D.C.’s most in-demand tables.
How many seats are there at Maydān?
There are around 90 seats, including the 15 walk-in bar seats inside. Our patio includes 32 outdoor seats for reservations and walk-in diners.
When do reservations drop on Resy?
Reservations open 21 days in advance at 10 a.m. on a rolling basis.
How quickly do reservations get snatched up, and do you accept walk-ins?
They usually go quickly, but we always save a few tables for larger groups. We always accept walk-ins, and we do have a few tables that are for walk-ins only, plus the bar is first-come, first-serve.
Any other ways to snag a seat on short notice?
I always tell people to use the Notify list. It helps with alerting guests when tables open up due to cancellations.
If someone were to set a notification for a reservation on Resy for short notice what days or times might be best to book?
Weekdays are always easier than weekends, so I always suggest Sunday through Wednesday for last-minute. If you want to come in on a Friday or Saturday, my suggestion? Be flexible about dining times.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for making a reservation?
The Notify list is always number one, but I also always suggest emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to see what may be possible. Our director of hospitality, Chloe, and the management team, go the extra mile to make it happen.
Can you share a good story about someone at the door trying to get a seat?
We had a couple walk in on a Saturday night thinking they had a reservation. The gentleman was panicked, and you could see it on his face because he made it for a different restaurant by accident.
Maydān was his girlfriend’s favorite restaurant in the city, so our host team went above and beyond to make sure we could snag them a last-minute table. He ended up proposing to her upstairs, and we all got to witness it!
How long is your Notify list on average?
It varies between 75 guests to 350-400 people on any given day. But don’t worry, if we have tables open, we will call the Notify list.
What does it mean to be a regular at Maydān?
We do have a bunch of regulars. We always envisioned being a neighborhood gathering place and we really value our guests who have now become part of the Maydān family. We always love showing off new dishes or cocktails to them, and getting their feedback. We are also very aware of repeat guests
Explain how the Tawle menu works for those who might not be familiar?
Our Tawle menu is a four-course menu. Tawle in Arabic means table, and at Maydān we fill up the table with four different courses that we want our guests to eat together. This feast includes a variety of salads and spreads, seasonal vegetables, and meat kebabs. Extra dishes are also available to order.
Everything is family-style and meant to share. We’ve basically have taken the guesswork out of our à la carte menu, and made it into what we think the perfect meal would be here at Maydān. We always say the prix fixe menu should remind you of sitting at your grandmother’s table as she brings you endless amounts of food.
Set the mood for us if it’s Friday at 7 p.m.? What type of music is playing? What is the vibe in the dining room?
Imagine dim lighting, and a lot of light from the hearth roaring in the center of the restaurant. The type of music we like to play includes Acid Arab, Sofiane Saidi, and Fairouz. Our playlists are curated by one of our very talented staff members, Lucas.
In your opinion, what is the best seat in the house?
I love all the seats downstairs near the fire but also the two high-tops overlooking the entire main floor. When I go out, though, I always want the bar instead of a table, so the bar always holds a special place in my heart.
What is your personal favorite dish on the menu? Your favorite drink?
Currently my favorite dish is dango, which is a stewed, buttery chickpea dish that I love adding to any bite.
My favorite cocktail on Maydān’s menu would have to be the See You Later Space Cowboy. Our beverage director Drew Hairston’s ability to balance gin, arak, and passionfruit in one drink blows my mind every time I try it.
What’s something new there? What are you most excited about right now?
Coming out of the pandemic has been a journey for us. I think the most exciting part of this year for Maydān will be being creative again. Whether it’s food, beverage, or events, we have a lot of fun and exciting things coming up, including our new wine club, plus Maydān’s cookbook (due out in November and available for preorder), as well as a little sister concept opening soon.