100 Best Restaurants 2011: Jaleo

No. 25

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

José Andrés, one of the first celebrity chefs to make his reputation in Washington, has expanded his brand to include one of Los Angeles’s hottest restaurants and two more on the way in Las Vegas in addition to his seven local places. But the kitchens at his trio of Spanish tapas houses remain sharp.

Dishes celebrate Spain’s culinary building blocks—salty meats, citrus fruits, acidic tomatoes—whether in a traditional gazpacho with a shot of sherry vinegar or an Andrés riff such as olives stuffed with anchovies and piquillo peppers. The vibe at these fast-paced restaurants is fun—and loud: Groups knocking back pitchers of sangría create the feel of a big party.

Also good: A luxurious spoonful of sea urchin with peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers; bacon-wrapped dates; white gazpacho with grapes and almonds; grilled quail with rosemary and honey sauces; roasted onions with blue cheese and pine nuts; rice pudding with lemon.

DC and Bethesda locations open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Crystal City open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants


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.