If it’s one in the morning and you’re craving really good food, Kabob Palace is your ticket. Careful though! There’s a Kabob Palace sit-down restaurant one block away and what you want is the walk-in/dine-in or take out place. Walk in there at midnight and you’re sure to find a crowd– taxi drivers, shift-workers, southern boys with boat shoes and croakies, police officers, doughy-faced business men just off their flight into Reagan, and ALWAYS, a long table full of Asians. I’m not sure if they’re locals or if they read about it in Lonely Planet, but there’s always a large group of Asians sitting at one of Kabob Palace’s faux green marble-topped tables.
The guys (it’s entirely men) behind the counter and in the kitchen are efficient if not entirely enthusiastic or friendly. They let the bumper stickers on the door to the kitchen handle their PR. The signs say things like “Unbowed, Unafraid, Sept 11 2001” or “In Memory of Those Who Perished”, “God Bless America”, “We Will Never Forget”. There are a bunch of American flags on the door, too, just to make the point. The rest of the place is meagerly decorated with Middle-Eastern kitsch– a few pictures, posters, some fake plants. It’s usually cold inside with overhead fans running continuously. Like all 24-hour places, every corner is lit up by fluorescent lights and a picture menu borders the ceiling.
I usually order a number four unless I’m really hungry and want more left-overs, and then I order a number nine. Tim makes a point of always ordering it to-go because he swears you get more food that way and I’ve followed suit. When your order is ready, there’ll be a Pride in America styrofoam box waiting with your meat, an anemic looking salad and a huge piece of warm naan in a paper bag. The naan is out of this world! I watched them making it the last time we were there. Rather than rolling the dough out, a guy pulls it over a folded-up damp towel then pulls it off and flops it down a hole that’s in the counter. Hidden underneath is the oven which appears to be a hot, bowl-shaped affair. The dough sticks to the side, cooking front and back at the same time, and then he whips it off right before it gets too toasty and tosses it on the pile of cooked naan.
Tim always tells them he doesn’t want salad (again, no salad= more room for real food). Then you go through the line ordering your sides. I’m a little confused by this part because it’s not very clear how many sides come with your meal. The rule seems to be that you get whatever you ask for. So I ask for the rice, the lentils, the chick pea sauce, the chicken stuff, and the cucumber sauce. Pure bliss! The more decisive and clear you are in ordering sides, the better. They don’t get upset or irritated with the novice who can’t make up her mind and is wondering if ‘that has vegetables in it?’ Their facial expression never really changes, but if you hesitate too long, they’ll start to close up your box and hand it to you, indicating you’ve chosen all the sides that come with your meal even if you’ve only picked out two. I’ve eaten at a number of kabob places, but nothing even comes close to what they serve at Kabob Palace. At other places the naan isn’t warm, the rice is plain and dry, the meat lacks flavor. I never can finish the whole thing, so the best part is that I get to enjoy the whole experience over the next day!