Ambar - Arlington

4.6
1727 reviews
icon/ic_price_rangeCreated with Sketch.
$30 and under
icon/ic_cuisineCreated with Sketch.
Tapas / Small Plates
Top tags:
  • Tapas
  • Good for a Date
  • Creative Cuisine
Our aim is to put together the finest products of the New World and Old World for your dining pleasure. Perennially on the edge of great empires, the Balkans owes much of its food culture to its history, geography, and climate. The term Balkan is generally believed to come from the Byzantine word meaning: “a chain of wooded mountains.” With a desire to introduce Virginia to cutting edge Balkan cuisine, we created a dining space that will delight and indulge the senses. Primarily featuring “small plates,” Ambar also offers wines and spirits from the Balkans not often experienced by the American diner. Ambar showcases the best dishes from the Balkan Peninsula with a modern twist. These dishes are presented artfully, with modern combinations that deliver the flavor profiles in a unique way. Serbian natives Ivan Iricanin and Uros Smiljanic developed the menu with the help of Executive Chef Dejan Pilovic .
What 1727 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.4
service
4.5
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Moderate
92% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 20 hours ago
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

The service was terrible. They made a mistake on our reservation! It took 15 minutes for the waitress to come to the table & order food. Then she didn’t want to take the order, because she said she did not want to stress out the kitchen. We wanted one order of each meat & poultry. We waited for 30 minutes, instead she brought us bread, 1 tomato soup, Brussels sprout, Ambar fries, mezze & meat pies. We waited for another hour for slow roasted lamb, medallions lamb, fries zucchini & pulled pork. Then took another 30 minutes for salmon, trout & mussels. By the time we got our desserts we’ve been sitting for more 2.5 hours, we had a crying baby & toddler. Everyone around us had left and we waited another 15-20 minutes to get our bill. The waitress charged 5 Ambar experience (5x$35). We had 4 adults, 1 baby & 2 year old girl. She keeps making mistakes. Overall, the experience was horrendous! Do not go to this restaurant! The food was disgusting!Everything was over cooked. The dishes were cold!

LA
Washington DC
50 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

We have been to Ambar several times. The food is always good and the "all you can eat for $35" is a great value. Unfortunately, some of the dishes we ordered never arrived, others were taken away while we were still eating them, and the cocktails were pretty watered down. I am not sure we will be returning.

HC
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 4

Honestly, don't come here. There are better places nearby for brunch.

JO
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 3

Food is good, service is not the best. You have to order the same item a few times before the food arrives to your table if it even arrives. A better system needs to be implemented with their unlimited dining experience. I’d rather just order a la carte then to experience the service we received.

c
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

I was happy to have come here with my fiance for our anniversary despite a negative review from a friend. We were intrigued by the menu (thanks for posting online by the way, for Restaurant Week) as my fiance is Russian and enjoyed some of the food items that reminded him of his family. We also connected with the server, which made the atmosphere more comforting. The ambiance already was overall very casual, not at all loud, not at all too quiet, and the restaurant environment was decorative to look at. We preferred most of the tapas over others, however, we loved the food and service. Thanks for a wonderful dining experience.

T
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 5

My friend really liked it, I thought it was pretty good. It was fun getting unlimited small plates. After an hour and a half, I did get the feeling that the server wanted us to hurry up a bit. The food was decent, although nothing really stood out as superb.

LV
Washington DC
38 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

We enjoyed the diversity of dishes in the European/tapas style. We liked the opportunity to sit outside and avoid the noisier indoor setting. It felt that there was a shortage of servers - some of our dishes took forever to be delivered. The Balkan salad was outstanding.

EE
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on 11 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Perfectly sized portions for trying their unlimited brunch menu and getting a taste for what Ambar is all about. Delicious drinks that pair perfectly with their brunch menu. Can’t wait to try it for dinner!

b
Miami
20 reviews
Dined on 11 August 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

First experience with Balkan foods and it was very good!

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 10 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always a great experience here. Tasty food and custom cocktails.

D
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on 10 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was excellent. Lots of different things to try. Something for everyone. They do lamb very well
You don’t leave hungry 😋

DT
1 review
Dined on 10 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Beautiful restaurant, great options for food. Fast service.

MK
1 review
Dined on 10 August 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Not quite as good as food in the Balkans, but still pretty good if you're craving kajmak, ajvar, etc...

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 9 August 2019
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 5

Food was delicious and drinks were great. The service starts out strong, plates come out fast and then it slows down significantly. We did the unlimited and gave up ordering after a while cause we were waiting for so long. Even though unlimited seems like a good deal, I think they stop you from ordering too much.

T
Richmond
7 reviews
Dined on 9 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

I love Ambar. I've been for brunch, lunch, and now dinner. First, Ambar is beautifully decorated. It truly feels very Instagram worthy, with its plants hanging from the ceiling. Second, the meat is delicious. I wasn't super impressed with the fish, but they sure do know how to cook meat! The value to try different things is unbeatable. What I love most is their allergy menu - it tells you what exactly is gluten free/dairy free/vegetarian/vegan. It's awesome to have that when eating out, and I truly do appreciate it.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 8 August 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Super loud, but great food and service as always.

SA
1 review
Dined on 8 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our waiter was extremely helpful and helped us make decisions. They treated us well.

HR
1 review
Dined on 8 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of my favorite restaurants!!! They have an amazing unlimited small plates lunch for $20, and our server was so sweet! We took my mom here before dropping her off for her return flight home and she was amazed! We ate way too much and said we didn’t need a dessert, but the server brought a small, lovely dessert platter with a stenciled powdered sugar, strawberries, chocolate paste, and a small, tasty donut for each of us. It made the end of my mom’s visit even sweeter! Definitely recommend.

JA
San Diego
6 reviews
Dined on 5 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Outstanding food! Concept of AYCE small plates is great.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 4 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great date place!

OT
1 review
Dined on 4 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

AMAZING! I love this place so much. Food reminds me so much of my hometown Belgrade, that every time I eat hereI have desire to go back to my Belgrade. Service is excellent! They don’t bother you almost at all. Ambient is great. I love how people dress nicely to come to eat at Ambar. Very often you can see large groups of people chatting and enjoying food. Dishes are great modern twist of traditional Serbian food.

LC
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on 4 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is always delicious, and our server was great. He made wonderful recommendations, and explained the components of each dish as they arrived at the table. This was my Mom's first experience at Ambar, and she can't wait to go back!

OT
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on 4 August 2019
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 5

Food came out at different times, making it awkward since we all ordered the entrees of omelettes. The server made of feel like that's the way everything is delivered since we didn't order the $34 unlimited brunch. The portions were very small for an entree.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 3 August 2019
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 4

I have been to other Ambar's before, and recall enjoying it. Unfortunately, this night, the kitchen was just off. Things that ought to have been crispy were soft and grey, and things that should have been flavorful was bland. I don't know if it was an off night, or a bigger dropoff, but it was disappointing.

c
1 review
Dined on 3 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Server was awesome and helped us experience the whole menu

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 3 August 2019
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 2

Very loud with people screaming so loud, it was impossible to have a conversation. We were seated quickly but sever wasn’t the most attentive. Went for the unlimited brunch but regretted it almost immediately. The appetizers looked good but were average at best. The zucchini sliders and the fish sliders were both below par in terms of prep and nothing to talk about. While the cheap drinks seemed like a good deal, they were missing one key ingredient - alcohol! The only thing that was slightly satisfying was the dessert - we had the strawberry waffles with Nutella and that was nice and light.

Overall, came out feeling super unsatisfied and it wasn’t worth the money at all. Will not be going back anytime soon.

CR
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on 2 August 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Superb pre-theater dinner. The seafood platter was particularly outstanding.

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 2 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

The $35 all you can eat “Anbar experience” is a fantastic way to sample the menu and decide the dishes you’ll want when you come again. Because you will. The food is excellent. It comes out quickly, as do the drinks. The environment is fun and full of energy. I highly recommend the meat pie, grilled shrimp, and meat lasagne. Go hungry because you will want to try everything.

DM
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on 2 August 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food we had while traveling through the Balkans was amazing; Ambar brings all the flavors to Northern Virginia in a lively and tasteful setting. So many dishes to be sampled, and every one of them was simply delicious. We had the unlimited servings for $35 per person, and with four of us sharing each other’s dishes, we had a huge variety of things to try, each unique and delicious. I can only say that the great reviews posted for Ambar are fully deserved; great food and great fun.

g
New Orleans
3 reviews
Dined on 29 July 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food, service, parking in rear and price... all outstanding

D
Savannah
1 review
Dined on 28 July 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love Ambar!!

GR
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on 28 July 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

First time there! It was great! Although noisy, will go back. 😀

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 27 July 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Our server Valentin was amazing!!

BT
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on 27 July 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Very crowded, noisy, and loud. Tables are too closely spaced and we had to request to sit outside. Would rather have been in 90 degree heat than feel like a sardine and have to yell to hear someone across the table (2ft) away from me.

TL
Western NC
3 reviews
Dined on 27 July 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food, value and service. Very fun place to go for my birthday

j
Washington DC
24 reviews
Dined on 26 July 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

The service was poor; our waiter was not around; couldn't even see him around the restaurant. For a tapas model, you need to have service not hiding. otherwise food was great, but need better service

RM
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on 23 July 2019
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 4

I enjoyed Ambar in DC many years ago and was looking forward to having on in Arlington. When my husband and I went a few years ago, it was quite good, though the small plate portions were pretty expensive. I went again with a friend recently and the cocktails were as good, if not as excellent as I remembered, but was disappointed in the food. Almost everything we ate was too salty. I had to return the cabbage cassoulet because it was inedible. The lamb medallion, wild boar slider, and the calamari were oversalted although the calamari would've been excellent with its spiciness and less salt. If we hadn't used the Ambar Experience, I would've felt ripped off with the tiniest portions given for the small plates and the amount they charge for them. I don't know if it was an off day for the chef(s) but for what's charged, it's not worth a return.

A
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on 23 July 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The venue is lovely although loud (near the bar). However, away from the bar near the windows the sound level is comfortable. $35 buys unlimited small plates (excluding dessert). We decided to go that route and I would strongly recommend doing so. The food is very good falling just short of excellent. All of the dishes were good, however, none of them blew me away so that I was clamoring for more with the exception of the slow-cooked lamb which was a sparse serving but truly delicious. The desserts were average - the cinnamon sweet sourdough much nicer than the tres leches.

S
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on 23 July 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Ambar is always a great food experience.

r
1 review
Dined on 21 July 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Ambar is always a good spot for brunch! Such a great atmosphere and the servers and management are so nice and attentive. It's perfect for any occasion–boozy brunch with friends, dinner dates, a place to bring family–and the food quality and quantity is perfect.

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