Cheap Eats 2007: Jaleo
Comments () | Published July 13, 2007
100 Best Restaurants 2014 100 Best Restaurants 2013 100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Jaleo - Penn Quarter
Address: 480 7th St., NW, Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-628-7949
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Downtown
Cuisines: Spanish/Portuguese, Tapas/Small Plates
Opening Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 AM to 11 PM; Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to midnight; Sunday and Monday 11:30 AM to 10 PM; Saturday and Sunday brunch til 3 PM.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Rowdy
Reservations: Recommended
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 $7 to $15; entrées $7 to $60
Special Features:
Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Weekend Brunch, Party Space, Outdoor Seating, Good for Groups
Scene:
Food Specials, Outdoor Seating

Colorful ceramic shards in the table mosaics evoke visionary Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, and plaster pillars give the place a vintage look. It’s a fitting backdrop for José Andrés’s menu of traditional and modern tapas.

Early in the evening, theatergoers make a meal of the small plates. Later on, younger patrons crowd the bar for icy carafes of sangría. Jaleo is the granddaddy of the area’s Spanish tapas craze, and the downtown DC outpost is still one of the best places to enjoy it.

The classic potato omelet known as tortilla, silky roasted red peppers, tomato-rubbed bread with manchego, and garlicky shrimp—all taste as though you were eating them at a bar in Madrid. More elaborate but no less delicious are velvety eggplant flan, crisp croquetas of Iberian ham and chicken folded into béchamel, and grilled asparagus with piquant romesco. Some plates, like braised and caramelized oxtail with mashed potatoes and meaty jus, might stand in for dinner on their own.

Desserts don’t stray far from the classics, and with a crema Catalana like this—not too eggy and with a sweet-bitter sauce of oranges and burnt sugar—who would want them to?

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 10:09 AM/ET, 07/13/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews