When a good friend of mine suggested that we meet for dinner at Jaleo in DC’s Penn Quarter, I knew to expect great culinary things. After all, the restaurant belongs to José Andres, a world-renowned chef who is often credited with bringing tapas (small plates) dining to the United States. After a three hour Spanish cuisine extravaganza, I certainly was not disappointed.
The design of the restaurant itself quickly sets the mood for a fun night of food. There is nothing stuffy or formal about the oddly shaped tables (one eight-top is made of a converted foosball table!), bright colors, or modern art covering the walls of Jaleo. After tucking ourselves into a corner table, my friend and I quickly got down to the business of ordering.
As my dinner companion and I travelled to Spain together last spring, tapas are a familiar dining concept. We quickly decided on a long list of dishes to try, including Pan De Cristal Con Tomate (crispy bread topped with fresh, seasoned tomatoes), traditional Spanish tortilla (which resembled a potato omelet, not the flour tortillas that traditionally accompany American-Mexican dishes), and a salad made of mixed greens, idiazábal cheese, Spanish anchovies, and garlic anchovy dressing. Everything was absolutely delicious.
We wrapped up a night of delectable tapas and good conversation with an enchanting take on flan, a traditional Spanish dessert to which I am quite partial. Our Pan Con Chocolate consisted of chocolate flan with caramelized bread, drizzled olive oil, and brioche ice cream. It was the perfect final dish.
If you find yourself in our nation’s capital any time soon, be sure to enjoy a meal at Jaleo—it is certainly well worth it! Just be sure to make a reservation, as it can get quite busy.