I knew better than to eat at Layalina. This place is walking distance from our house and when it first opened, was truly revelatory. The lamb was tender, the flavors were explosive, pomegranate seeds burst in every bite, and the attention from the owners (she's Syrian, he's Lebanese) was so warm and familiar, it was like having instant Syrian-Lebanese grandparents. In the last few years, something happened, though and Layalina is no longer magical. The food is greasy and the flavors less intense, the portions are small, my kibbeh were frozen in the middle, the decor is starting to fray (literally), it feels like someone is paying my grandparents to dote on me, and the place is empty (the Salvadoran place across the street was PACKED on the same Friday night). With the exception of the kibbeh (ice cold-frozen in the center), nothing was terrible and maybe if I hadn't know it when, I might have been happy with it, but the current state of affairs just makes me sad, sad sad.
5216 Wilson Blvd., Arlington