When we were living in our former apartment on Woodmont Avenue in “Old Bethesda”, there was a cute Italian place called Frascati that we loved, and more importantly, was one of the few places Brett’s grandparents actually liked. It was a Bethesda staple that remained in business for nearly three decades.
So, of course, it closed just a few months later after we first discovered it.
The space remained vacant for several years and left us wondering if anything was eventually going to replace it.
Flash forward to last month and we couldn’t help but notice a sign in the storefront announcing the opening of Yamas, a new Greek restaurant in Bethesda.
With the departure of both Levante’s and Athenian Plaka, this was a welcome addition among a sea of Lebanese and other Mediterranean establishments such as Bacchus of Lebanon, Lebanese Taverna, Moby Dick House of Kabab, and the new Bistro Lazzez.
Cava Grill has already announced the construction of their new casual space on Bethesda Avenue, but for now, it seems that Yamas has a jump on the action in Greek fare in the area.
The atmosphere at Yamas is fairly casual, with a menu on the wall by the ordering area, but there is also a seating space with waitstaff in addition to a bar area.
Happy Hour specials include a “Mezze ‘Opa’ Ωra” of $5 Mezze dishes, house red and white wine in a half kilo or kilo for $5 or $10, respectively, bottled Greek beer for $4, and drafts for $2.99. There is also a Yamas dirty martini that features Ketel One with olives stuffed with feta cheese.
One mezze dish that was particularly good was the zucchini fritters. In fact, we were very excited about ordering this appetizer given that we recently went to the Greek Islands for our honeymoon.
Just to give a backstory: when we would drink champagne or other cocktails while in Greece, instead of toasting with “cheers”, it was tradition to instead shout “Yamas!”. One of our favorite dishes in Greece was the zucchini fritters (otherwise dubbed zucchini balls at most Greek tavernas) and was served with a tzatziki sauce.
Let’s just say that the dish we had at Yamas was the only one that compared to what we had in Greece, and trust us, we have tried several Greek restaurants since returning to the States.
There is much variety found on the menu, listing typical Greek items such as marinated octopus, spanakopita, falafel, chicken souvlaki, and of course, gyros.
The restaurant also features items such as the Yamas lamb burger and a rotisserie chicken with fresh and unique sides to choose from. These sides range from “opa fries” (which consist of olive oil and feta cheese) as well as a house salad, roasted vegetables, green beans, and roasted vegetable orzo.
The second time we dined at Yamas, I went with two of my girlfriends while Brett was off working and eating his way through Kansas City.
We started off with some wine and, not shockingly, the zucchini fritters. The wine glasses were somewhat small, but they had a nice variety of Greek selections. My friends also agreed that the fritters were excellent.
The waiter was very attentive and came over several times to ask if we needed anything. This time around my friends ordered the house salad with falafel, the chicken souvlaki on whole wheat pita, and I got a quarter chicken with roasted vegetables.
The chicken was incredibly flavorful with a mixture of lemon, oregano, olive oil, and other spices. The vegetables consisted of tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, and red peppers and were a perfect compliment to the chicken.
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal and will definitely go back soon. The waiter even discounted some of the wines off of our bill which was a very nice surprise.
You can see that Yamas is trying hard to earn customer loyalty and we have definitely been won over. You can view their full menu here, and be sure to sample some of their Greek cuisine at Taste of Bethesda on October 2nd.