Spit Fire

Two new restaurants ace their Middle Eastern sandwiches

There are plenty of cheap, easy shawarma sandwiches out there.

But the best versions rely on impeccably spiced meat, slow-roasted on a spit, and a stroke of nutty tahini and pickles to add texture and acid. Here are two new standard-bearers:

Mount of Lebanon: The team behind Falls Church's Lebanese Butcher reopened their restaurant late last month in a cavernous space that looks like a late-night dance hall. The kitchen grills traditional platters of shish kababs over rice ($14) and serves a richly textured kibbeh nayyeh ($9.45), raw lamb mixed with bulgur. Wisps of slow-roasted beef and lamb leg pierce through the flatbread of the shawarma sandwich ($6). The meat is spiced with paprika, pepper and cumin, and topped with tahini, pickled turnips and cucumbers, and diced tomatoes. 2922 Annandale Rd., Falls Church; 703-241-2012

Shawafel: Its clunky name aside, this H Street newcomer enticed us from the moment we entered, thanks to its spits turning with aromatic chicken and a blend of lamb and beef, each marinated in vinegar, lemon and a mix of spices. Shavings of the meat shawarma ($7.50) take an herbal spin in their voluptuous wrap. Owner Alberto Sissi adds mint and parsley to flavor the sandwich, along with baby corn and turnip pickles. For the indecisive, the signature shawafel ($7.50) merges two classics: crisp falafel and shawarma.