Food

Cheap Eats 2007: Jaleo

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.

Get Our “Brunches This Weekend” Newsletter

The best breakfasts and brunches to try every weekend, plus our most popular food stories of the week.

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.

SIGN UP
We engage readers directly in their mailboxes with topics like Health, Things to Do, Best Brunches, Design & Shopping, and Real Estate. Get the latest from our editors today.
Get The Best Of Washingtonian In Your Inbox!