Bride & Groom MOM Subscribe

Find Local

Best Bites Blog > New Restaurants|New Restaurants|New Restaurants

First Look: Guardado’s

A tapas spot that sticks to the classics.

A tapas spot that sticks to the classics.

At Guardado's in Bethesda, chef Jose Nicolas Guardado has reprised the bold, rustic flavors he cooked at Jaleo. Photograph by Morgan Howarth.

At Guardado's in Bethesda, chef Jose Nicolas Guardado has reprised the bold, rustic flavors he cooked at Jaleo. Photograph by Morgan Howarth.

Crisp potatoes smothered in a tangy tomato aïoli. Wilted spinach perked up with pine nuts and raisins. A crock of sautéed mushrooms with a scent of sherry that hits you before the dish reaches the table. Sound familiar? If you’ve eaten at Jaleo—one of chef José Andrés’s popular Spanish-style tapas houses—it will. That’s because the guy doing the cooking is Jose Nicolas Guardado, an Andrés protégé who rose from salad cook to head chef at the Bethesda Jaleo. Now the Salvadoran native has opened his own restaurant.

The familiar dishes notwithstanding, Guardado’s is humbler than its inspiration. There are no commissioned murals, no jewel-toned lanterns, no sherry martinis. Instead you’ll find stripped brick walls, bud vases on the tables, and carafes of vibrant red sangría.

The menu looks beyond Spain with dishes from El Salvador, Mexico, and even Honduras, but the further you stray from tapas, the iffier the result. A Honduran-style plantain stuffed with beef and capped with a thick sheath of mozzarella tastes straight off a kids menu, while a Peruvian-style ceviche buries the fish in a soupy marinade. The seafood paella for two is bland. Much more delicious are the béchamel-laced croquetas and shrimp in a pool of sizzling olive oil and garlic.

It may lack the polish of Jaleo, but Guardado’s has promise.

Guardado’s, 4918 Del Ray Ave., Bethesda; 301-986-4920; guardadosnico.com.

Read Next

Welcome Back, Market Lunch!

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular on Washingtonian

4 Projects That Are Going to Change Washington

The Troubled, Tormented, Surprisingly Lucky Life of Michael Graham

The Great Washington Bucket List: 50 Things Every Local Needs to Do

One Lawyer's Trip Down the "Serial" Rabbit Hole

This Bloody Mary With A Lox Bagel Garnish Is Genius

29 DC Events You Should Go to This Month

Rabia Chaudry: "Jay Is Close to Whoever Did It"

The Audacious Plan to Turn a Sprawling DC Suburb Into a Big City

This Mansion Just Became DC’s Priciest Home