José Andrés is ready to unveil his latest restaurant, Spanish Diner, in downtown Bethesda on Thursday, May 13. The 108-seat, all-day eatery is a spinoff of Andrés’ diner in New York’s Mercado Little Spain food hall, and is taking over the former Jaleo space on Woodmont Avenue.
Spanish Diner is Andrés’s homiest concept on several levels. The chef-turned-humanitarian has called Bethesda home for years with his wife, Patricia, and three daughters, Carlota, Ines, and Lucia. During the pandemic, fans got a view into his family’s kitchen while Andrés and his daughters demonstrated easy recipes like brisket and eggs while belting out showtunes from Hamilton. One of their quarantine cooking dishes, lentejas (lentil stew) can be found on the diner’s lengthy menu. The restaurant’s comfort fare, while cheffy enough to match Spanish architect Juli Capella’s vibrant space, nods to both Andrés’s adopted US home and Asturias, the northwest region of Spain where he was born.
Unique to the Bethesda location are dishes from the mountainous region, such as smoky fabana bean stew with cured meats (morcilla, chorizo, and smoked Ibérico pork bacon). A menu section of “la cocina de la Abuela” (“our grandmother’s cuisine”) contains stews, meatballs, and pastas like canelones gratinados con foie, wide noodles stuffed with chicken, pork, and duck foie gras, and baked in a blanket of béchamel sauce.
There are also simpler indulgences. Head Chef Daniel Lugo, who’s worked with Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup over the past five years at Jaleo, has become a master of egg cookery for Spanish Diner. One section of the menu is entirely devoted to olive oil-fried eggs over crispy potatoes—a nod to Casa Lucio, a Madrid institution famous for its huevos rotos (and bull-tail stew) since 1974. Diners can pick between two and six eggs and add Spanish breakfast meats like morcilla (blood sausage) or jamón. There are vegetarian options with avocado and eggs, and diners can customize platters with add-ons like Spanish tomato bread. And if you’re looking for a lunch-meets-breakfast mashup, combo platters like plancha-seared squid or spiced pork loin with fried eggs, potatoes, and chicken croquettes are a good way to go.
ThinkFoodGroup cocktail innovator Miguel Lancha is behind the drinks if you’re craving something stronger than La Colombe coffees. Jaleo-style sangria—and sangria happy hour—are back, served in three styles (red, rosé, and cava) by the glass or pitcher. Cocktails are heavy on vermouths and sherries, and include riffs on Spanish classics like kalimotxo (red wine, Coca-Cola, Magdala orange liqueur, and Cynar artichoke liqueur). Being an Andrés operation, there are of course several styles of gin-and-tonics to sip on the 48-seat patio.
Check out the menu here.
Spanish Diner. 7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 AM to 9 PM.