> SlowTrav > USA > Restaurants > Reviews > District of Columbia

Washington: Jaleo

480 7th Street NW , Phone: 202-628-7949

Reviewed by: Shannon from CA, review #3190

When: 2009

Excellent, authentic tapas in a fun environment.

Directions: Jaleo is in Penn Quarter near Gallery Place metro stop.

On my recent trip to D.C. I had several experiences at Jaleo. One for lunch (on my birthday), one for happy hour, and one with friends for dinner. All three experiences were great. I love owner Jose Andres' show "Made in Spain" so I was excited to eat at one of his restaurants and it definitely did not disappoint.

My first two times (lunch and happy hour) I was alone and sat at the bar. Both bartenders who served me were great. Sometimes when you eat alone at the bar, you sort of get neglected.... not so here. When ever it looked I might remotely need something they were there. For my lunch I ate pan tomate (good country bread, toasted and spread with tomato), a delicious salad with apple, fennel, and manchego with a sherry vinaigrette dressing and then (because it was my birthday) an order of canalons, which are fresh pasta, rolled and stuffed with a meat mixture (in this case duck foie gras and pork I think) and topped with a bechamel sauce, a traditional (and historical) dish of Catalonia. YUM. Everything was absolutely delicious and the bartender bought me a glass of wine for my birthday! On my check, it says "Birthday Girl." That is a cute touch.

Happy hour at Jaleo is AWESOME. My bartender told me they just started this, so I don't know if it will go forever, but it is sure worth checking into if you are going to DC. From 4-7 every day except Saturday, all wine by the glass, sangria, and I think draft beer is half price. Plus, they have all kinds of tapas for $4 each. I had some fried calamari that was very good, and I can't remember everything else that was offered, but I think there was fried eggplant with a cabrales cheese sauce, and the apple fennel salad I had at my lunch there. There were definitely plenty of options. I had the best glass of wine on their glass list and an order of calamari for $11! Hello, I'll be back.

Later in the week I went with friends. There were four of us and we were seated at the time of our reservation in a nice nook where it was fairly quiet - the restaurant was VERY busy (Saturday night) and I can imagine other parts would be a bit loud. We had an incredible meal that lasted for a couple of hours. The tapas we ate: more pan tomate, a plate of serrano ham, some manchego cheese, shrimps with garlic, spinach cooked with raisin and pine nuts, two orders of the canelons (I wanted one for myself, but I ended up sharing it); one incredible calamari tapa that I think was cooked in cider with pine nuts (it was a special - WHY did I not write this down) and a delicious cold mussel salad that was served in a little mussel tin (very cool presentation.) We also had a pan of rossejat, which is like paella but has fried, thin noodles instead of rice. There was not one dish at this meal that was not awesome - I was really impressed.

The wines - wines by the glass are decent, especially if you stick to whites. For our dinner, we had a bottle of Pasanau Ceps Priorat that was REALLY good and a bottle of Abadal Reserva which is a blend of Merlot, Cab and Syrah. Also very good. I will definitely be looking for both of these wines when I visit the regions where they are made, in the fall.

Service at our dinner was not nearly as good as my other two experiences at the bar, but it was a busy night so I can certainly understand that. We had wine, we had food, we were happy.

We spent $237 at dinner which is very reasonable considering we had two bottles of wine at $59 and $54 and then a couple of glasses after that. If you had food, and just one glass of wine or sangria, it would be a mind-blowingly good deal. I will definitely go back to Jaleo next time I am in D.C.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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