An area favorite for Spanish tapas, both traditional and forward-thinking.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published October 17, 2006
100 Best Restaurants 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Jaleo - Penn Quarter
Address: 480 Seventh St., NW, Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-628-7949
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Downtown
Cuisines: Tapas/Small Plates, Spanish/Portuguese
Opening Hours: Open for lunch and dinner Sunday and Monday 11:30 AM To 10:00 PM; Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM; Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to midnight. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30 to 3.
Nearby Metro Stops: Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives-Navy Memorial
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Rowdy
Reservations: Not Accepted
Best Dishes Stone-size boiled baby potatoes with a mojo verde sauce; a good and garlicky gamba al ajillo; house-made grilled sausage with white beans; bacon-wrapped dates; beet salad with pistachios.
Price Details: Tapas $3.95 to $9.95; entrées $14.95 to $16.95.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

Chef José Andrés has created other small-plates concepts since he opened this tapas house more than ten years ago--including two bigger but less consistent Jaleos in Bethesda and Crystal City--but it's here that you can feel his presence most.

The no-reservations dining room--friendly to children (including Andrés's own tiny daughters), theatergoers, and celebrating groups--is rustic and loud. Sherry- and manzanilla-spiked specialty cocktails flow along with pitchers of sparkly Cava sangria. The menu balances tradition (classic red and white gazpachos) with innovation (flan with orange-scented foam) but keeps its wide appeal: You can have a salad and single tapa for around $10 or spring for a more lavish spread.

Look for dishes that show off Spanish delicacies. Blue cheese from Cabrales is an accent mark in a beet-and-walnut salad and plays the lead in a dish of roasted potatoes. Serrano ham or manchego cheese cloak crusty, tomato-rubbed bread. Paprika adds depth to cold mussels marinated in olive oil and orange rind. A sausage plate bears earthy chorizo and slices of cured pork lomo. Never had blood sausage or tripe? Here's your chance. The sausage gets a simple garlic sauce, the tripe is in a deep, peasanty stew. Less exciting are the short list of entrées--grilled chicken, grilled beef--and the paellas sized for four.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 03:11 PM/ET, 10/17/2006 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews