Visiting Washington, DC on a business trip, I got a chance to visit and dine at the acclaimed Jose Andres restaurant, Jaleo! With a long, tasting menu in front of us, a group of us from work were ready to eat. And eat. And eat. Here's how it all went down at this authentic piece of Spain right here in Washington, DC!
Walking over to Jaleo you'll first notice it's bold signage on the side of the restaurant spelling out the restaurant name in large 4' letters. Inside Jaleo, the place is obviously popular and bustling with people. Having yet to visit Spain, Jaleo seems to have a decidedly European feel to the space with eclectic interior design in rich colors. My instincts tell me that pieces of it are a bit retro and dated, purposely.
Our group of 20+ people gets seated across three tables which for me was glass table-top over a foosball table, cool! As we waited for our 17 course tasting menu, we spun up a quick game in honor of the recent World Cup of futbol...
As red and white wine was poured for the table, I dug into my first taste of Jaleo, some delicious pan de tomato. Thin crusts of chewy bread smeared with just the right amount of tomato, delish! A very nice job for a common Spanish tapa and done quite well. Some beautiful chicken fritters (croquettes) followed next and they were wonderful! Full of crispy, flavor-filled creaminess. Next came a small cone of salmon tartare and oysters gin & tonic, both were refreshingly clean and tasty. Some Spanish potato omelet (a traditional tapa) along with chorizo in crispy potato followed.
Midway through the meal we moved into the heavier tapas and the classic gambas ajillo (garlic shrimp) along with a huge paella made of chicken and mushroom. I'd NEVER seen a paella pan this big, it required two people to carry it to the table and we dug into plates of darkly sauteed rice which was a bit oily but well flavored with the main ingredients.
Some mini pork mini-burgers were delicious and smeared with a wonderful sauce. And some chorizo over potato puree finished the heavier meat plates. All around some amazing and delicious small plates. And while we were all full, we finished off with some flan with crema Catalana and chocolate hazelnut cake with praline ice cream and salted caramel sauce, phew!
Service was excellent throughout the night and it looks like Jaleo bears true to its roots with a mostly European staff adding to the authenticity. Given it was a business dinner, I don't have a firm idea about the price range at Jaleo but the food was well-prepared and seemed quite authentic regardless of price. So a big thumbs-up to Jaleo in Washington, DC. I would love to have a restaurant like this in the Triangle and have my fingers crossed on that wish...
480 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
4 stars out of 5