Comments () | Published January 17, 2007
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Jaleo - Crystal City
Address: 2250 A Crystal Dr., Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 703-413-8181
Neighborhood: Arlington, Crystal City/Pentagon City, Arlington
Cuisines: Tapas/Small Plates, Spanish/Portuguese
Opening Hours: Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 AM to 10 PM; Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to 11; Sunday 11:30 to 10. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday.
Nearby Metro Stops: Crystal City
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Accepted
Best Dishes Red and white gazpachos; beet and walnut salad; roasted potatoes with Cabrales cheese; tomato bread with manchego cheese or serrano ham; fried shark; croquetas; date-and-bacon fritters; goat-cheese-stuffed pimientos; marinated mussels; scallops with romes
Price Details: Tapas $3.95 to $9.95; entrees $14.95 to $16.95.

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 at his Penn Quarter original 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.

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Posted at 07:29 AM/ET, 01/17/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews