Look inside the Israeli Street Food restaurant at the Bible Museum

Those who walk through the massive doors of the new Bible Museum (400 Fourth Street SW) this weekend will get a taste of life in the Holy Land at Manna, cafeteria-style restaurateur Todd Gray has set up on the top floor.

Gray, founder of Equinox, a nearly 20-year-old downtown restaurant, visited Israel earlier this year to prepare for this quick service experience he created for museum enthusiasts, tasting all kinds of local cuisines in order to build the most authentic recreation possible in America. His tasting tour included endless amounts of hummus, hearty vegetable stews (eggplant and chickpeas prominently), braised lamb, and crispy falafels.

The lessons learned on that trip are now evident in Manna’s initial offerings, a menu that includes: seasonally-inspired falafels (expect pumpkin and maybe butternut squash this fall; it floated around green garlic for spring, and mint and peas in summer); roast chicken in yogurt (also served at Equinox); vegan chili with white beans; Israeli couscous with fruits and nuts; lamb meatballs with caramelized onions and mint; and cooked-to-order pancakes dressed in grilled haloumi, dried figs, labneh, and more. Equinox alum and aspiring bakery owner Brandi Edinger is back as executive pastry chef, adding sweets like pistachio baklava and chocolate halva into the mix.

Customers order their meals by browsing a line dotted with different stations (soup / salad, cereal / rice, side dishes, sides, flat breads, desserts). Seating in the Main Dining Room is allocated on a first come, first served basis, while an adjoining Members’ Lounge can accommodate private parties. A roof garden is also available for private functions. Those looking for even more on-the-go experiences can also find coffee, pastries, and prepackaged foods at the Milk & Honey Cafe, located just above the main lobby.

The two in-house restaurants are expected to operate on the same schedule as the museum. The Bible Museum is scheduled to operate from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

An official inauguration of the new museum is scheduled for Friday, November 17. It is currently scheduled to open to the public at 8 a.m. on Saturday, November 18.

Status: Certified open. 400 Fourth Street SW; website.

Scroll down for a preview of Manna.

Manna founder and leader Todd Gray.
photo by Rey lopez for Eater DC

Manna’s shelves are decorated with ceramic pots and serving platters.
photo by Rey lopez for Eater DC

The semi-private members’ lounge in Manna.
photo by Rey lopez for Eater DC

Decorative waterfalls, striking views, and living plants are all incorporated into Manna’s Biblical Garden.
photo by Rey lopez for Eater DC

Herb speckled lamb meatballs at Manna.
photo by Rey lopez for Eater DC

Fall harvest rice blend with split peas and green onions in Manna.
photo by Rey lopez for Eater DC

818 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC, DC 20006

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