January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

An ornate, Old World Spanish dining room near the World Bank.

No. 27: Taberna del Alabardero

Don’t be fooled by the old-world elegance—the bilevel dining room done up in red velvet and striped silks, the World Bank officials negotiating in the corner. The food, drawn from or inspired by Spain’s regional cuisines, is so vibrant and robust you’ll think you were sitting down to lunch in the Spanish countryside.

Flavors run deep in a plate of squid steeped in a thick black squid-ink sauce, in zurrukutuna, a garlicky Basque soup, and in pork belly with its fat seared wonderfully crisp. Paella purists will stick with the classic seafood version, but two other combos worth trying are the rusticky chicken-and-chorizo and the unusual baby-back-rib-and-scallion. Other notable choices are veal sweetbreads with spinach and pine nuts and a caramel cream custard with caramel ice cream.

Tapas can be had in the dining room and at the small bar at lunch and at the bar at dinner—they’re half price from 3 to 7. Show up early—there are only three stools, but there’s room to stand between them. The small plates range from the simple, like a jamon serrano carved from a big cured ham on the cutting board, to more elaborate fare, like a plate of piquillo peppers stuffed with braised oxtail. All go down better with one of the excellent fino sherries, the classic tapas quaff, or a glass of Rioja or Tempranillo from one of the city’s best and most unusual wine lists.

Don’t Miss Another New Restaurant—Get Our Food Newsletter

The latest in Washington’s food and drink scene.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.