When people walk into Fava Pot in Falls Church, they’re greeted with the smell of freshly baked pita bread made in a traditional wooden, along with a dozen menu options for traditional Egyptian cuisine.
Dina Daniel, the restaurant’s owner, opened the Falls Church Fava Pot back in 2017 after owning an Arlington food truck and has been serving up a variety of fare since, including vegan and vegetarian options.
Daniel said her favorite item is the Táamya, which she considers to be the eatery’s specialty. She called it an “Egyptian falafel” — the tiny ball has a crunchy exterior with a soft, veggie-filled inside. Unlike other types of falafels, the snack is made with fava beans instead of chickpeas.
Other best-sellers include Baba Ganoush, a tangy dip that comes covered in pomegranate seeds, combination platters that include lamb, chicken and veal and a variety of bowls and snacks.
When people stop by the restaurant, Daniel said she wants people to feel at home — comfortable, welcome and well-fed with wholesome fare with fresh veggies and whole wheat grains.
Daniel said that she wants people to feel as if they’re “having a feast at grandma’s house,” when they eat at Fava Pot. She added that many of the meals made at the Falls Church location are unique to that specific location and take more than 12 hours to prepare.
Unlike Fava Pot’s food truck or new pop-up in Union Market, the Falls Church location offers guests sit down meals with the help of Stephen Samuels, the area manager, and Elmer Ramos, the head chef. Fava Pot is also planning on expanding to Rosslyn later this year.
“Our business isn’t only about the back area, it’s about how you interact with the customer,” she said while waving to a regular customer across the room.
When Daniel first opened the restaurant, she said she worried that people’s unfamiliarity with Egyptian food would scare away potential customers, so she spent time in Tysons handing out free samples for several weeks.
Since the restaurant is a “travel destination,” Daniel said she was concerned before the grand opening in 2017 that people might not want to make their way to Falls Church to eat at the restaurant. But she said that concern has turned out to be unfounded.
Several days ago, Voice of America Asia featured Fava Pot on its YouTube channel as part of its “Food Bites” mini-series.
“I believe America has misconceptions of Egyptians,” she told Tysons Reporter, noting that Egypt has a distinctive cultural identity from the rest of the Middle East.
The walls of the Falls Church location are covered with the stories of famous Egyptians, including athletes, academics and musicians. To give back to her home country, some of the money made from Fava Pot goes directly to benefit a group called Coptic Orphans, which assists underprovided kids in Egypt.
As for the location’s clientele, she said that about only 20% have Egyptian heritage, which gives her a chance to act as a cultural ambassador for the community.
Part of her breakfast customer base originally came from overflow from the adjacent pancake house, until people got over their hesitation about Egyptian breakfast and decided to give the cuisine a shot.
“After God’s grace, it is what made our business stay,” she said.