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Black Lime Now Open in Crystal City

by ARLnow.com November 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm 5,863 29 Comments

(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.

  • lean meat

    It’s a restaurant, not a concept.

  • Deadite

    I prefer my limes green, thank you very much.

    • Jesse J

      lime racist

  • MrMeow

    Sounds pretty good, but that that different from Roti. I hope this place won’t make me sick like Roti has*

    *I took a pro biotic pill the last time I ate there and yacked, so it might be the pro biotic, and not Roti, but I got violently ill last time I ate there.

    • food criitc

      hmmm….all food blogs I know and read discourage unsubstantiated rumors about food poisoning….I guess Nova Steve 2.0 gets special trearment…..hope you don’t get sued!

  • nom de guerre

    What exactly is balsami rice? Do you mean basmati rice?

    • Mrmeow

      Maybe rice with balsamic vinegar in it?

    • Good question, we’ve changed that to “seasoned rice.”

  • 1RLI

    I agree that “the burrito market is kind of done.” I’ll this place a whirl.

  • bemused bystander

    Is grilled shirmp anything like smoked slamon?

  • Very Puny

    No, the shrimp was merely questioned and released on its own recognizance but the salmon was smoked …..he was a bad dude !!

    • Arlingtonian

      Ha ha ha! I love it!!!!

  • n

    The pita fell apart and the lady taking the initial order was kind of rude to two of us.

  • Dan

    Ordered.a pita, server went through 6 pitas b/c every time she tried to open it she punched a hole in it. They finally said forget it, and proceeded to give me a torn pita, and shoved what little ingredients they gave in to it.
    Black lime chicken was nothing special; not that flavorful – and not worth the money. Was $11 for a Pita smaller than a sandwich on white bread and a drink. Literally finished it in three/four bites…. Needless to say not going back.
    It’s a shame, have been waiting all summer for it to open, I am one of the military folks who work right next door….

    • Dan

      Dan, I am one of the managers at the Black Lime and I am truly disappointed in your experience. I would love to have you back to give us a second chance. We are experiencing some growing pains with our pitas and are working hard to correct the issues. Please feel free to come in anytime and ask for me.
      Thank you, Dan McConville

      • n

        Hey Dan M., just to balance out my own (separate) comment above, I did think it was a good deal at < $7, and I was surprised at how much chicken I was given, and did enjoy the flavor.

        The pita thing seems to need some work, and the initial POC could maybe be a little more customer service-oriented.

      • SteamboatWillie

        Dan M,

        That’s impressive of you to post here. My wife works in the area, so I’ll encourage her to check out the place. In my book, a little customer service like this goes a long way. Best of luck to you.

        • Thank you all, we are continually training and working to improve. Please come down and ask for me by name, I would love to establish a relationship with local residents and people working in the area.
          Dan McConville

    • Brian

      Def not $11, chicken pita is like $7

      • One of Those Military Folks

        He did say it was $11 for a pita *and a drink*, not just the entree. Though I hope they’re not charging $4 for beverages!

    • Mike

      Similar experience with me. Was clear that the staff was still training. I did find the chicken and toppings very flavorful, but the pita fell apart by the time I walked home (less than an 8 minute walk) and was a bit smaller than expected.

  • Michelle

    Went there late Tuesday night. Really enjoyed the food. Loved the eggplant fries. I thought the service was good, too. I hope the large portions we got were the norm not just a special luring in new customers. 😉

  • BrianKal

    Stopped in for dinner late Thursday and the place was dead but to be fair so was the rest of that strip.
    Food was really good, I found the chicken quite flavorful and reasonably priced. Lots of free topping choices and all was quite good.
    One issue though .. the menu prices (paper menus) don’t line up with what I was charged. Lemoande was 60 cents more and chicken 10 cents less. Growing pains?

  • 350sbc

    How is this place compared to other similar fast-casual restaurants, like Roti in Rosslyn?

  • TJ

    Went on Monday. Ordered a Chicken Plate (I think it ~8$ but I may have only been charged for a sandwhich, I didn’t see my reciept so I’ll find out when I get my credit card bill). The chicken was great. The two side salads were ok, the Red Pepper Hummus was good, the black lime hummus was interesting, and I will need to try it again to figure out if that’s a good interesting. Overall I thought it was a nice new option in the area, different and a nice break from Perfect Pita.

  • KalashniKEV

    Can’t wait to check this out.

    Hopefully it’s better than garbage-eating-goat, kebab with black flies, and slices of tomato with evil bacteria… the local national chow I so came to love!

  • SMDC

    Loved this place! I definately prefer it to Roti. Had the chicken plate, really enjoyed my sides and the chicken was very, very flavorful. The Eggplant fries were a huge highlight for me. Overall, everything tasted fresh and well-prepared, and I don’t feel gross and bogged down right now. Yes there were some first week kinks, but the customer service was great. It’s been declared in our regular weekly rotation because my group was very impressed!

  • Arlingtonian

    Visited for the first time tonight and liked the place. I had a potato with a ton of toppings for dinner. It filled me up and I was surprised by how well the flavors worked together. The person behind the counter dishing up the food was really nice; person at the register seemed to be still figuring out the machine. Only negative I can come up with was cold air coming in every time the door opened; would be nice if they had double doors. Food could have been hotter.

    Will be back. A nice change for the area.

  • ClarendonXpatriate

    Tasty. Liked it very much. $14 for a pita, fries and Cherry soda is a bit steep tho. Add tzatziki to the sauce options and I won’t care about the price.


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