Chicken Kebabs, Gyros, Shawarmas And Hummus At Bistro LaZeez In Bethesda

The secret's in the sauce at Bistro LaZeez

Sometimes, one stellar recipe can launch a whole enterprise.

At Bethesda's new Bistro LaZeez, that component is the ultimate grill marinade.

Owner Reda Asaad, a longtime teacher, opened his own restaurant after years of prodding by students who fell for the concoction at his annual year-end barbecues.

This marinade, which has also become BLZ's signature sauce, is the tangy backbone for many of the meat and mixed-grill entrées.

A mixture of tart lemon and garlic (among other secret ingredients), the light sauce is best showcased on skinless chicken kebabs ($11), which get a nice char but retain their juiciness over delicate, aromatic saffron rice. It also graces lamb kebabs ($14) and the chicken medley ($10).

For lunch, an array of excellent sandwiches–including a cinnamon-rich beef shawarma ($7) and crisped, nutty falafel ($6)–round out the menu, each wrapped in warm pita and pressed like panini.

Hedge your appetizer bets by ordering a four-item sampler (pictured; $12). The subtly tart fava beans ($5.50) are indeed whole, flavorful beans–unlike most limp, puréed renditions. Baba ghanoush ($5.50) is light and saucy, with just enough tahini to balance the fresh lemon.

It's one of many reasons to keep coming back.

Bistro LaZeez, 8009 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-8222 or