Jaleo

If you live in D.C. there’s a good chance you’ve heard of or visited one of the many José Andrés restaurants. Jaleo has been on our lists for a long time and we were thrilled when they were doing an extended restaurant week the week after RW was supposed to have ended.

Jaleo is, at its base, a tapas place where plates are designed to be shared and you’re supposed to order at least 3-4. Although they are small, don’t worry…by the end of the meal you’ll feel completely full.

Their restaurant week included a choice between several dishes for four dinner courses and one dessert course. Although the week has passed, you can still see the menu and get what we got here.

Walking into Jaleo feels like a breath of fresh air – the interior is very colorful and dominated by a warm color palette (think reds and even even some greens). The seating is a mix of high-tops, booths, and half-booth tables that allow for both large parties and intimate dates. We particularly liked how “fun” it felt without being kitschy or overwhelming. Also, when we go to a fun dinner that is going to last a few hours, we like to be able to talk and laugh. Jaleo definitely encourages you to have fun and not feel bad if you laugh a little on the loud side.

To start with, we both got Pan con tomate y queso Manchego and the Manchego was incredible. It was honestly amazing. Seriously, we love cheese and as cheese people this tomate y queso with a yummy tomato remoulade spread and a thick slice of Manchego over crunchy homemade bread was fantastic. It’s always funny when something so simple knocks your socks off – funny in a good way.

Another thing we really enjoyed about Jaleo is that we weren’t rushed through our courses at all. Sometimes if you’re eating a coursed meal, it feels as soon as you put your fork down a waiter arrives with another plate. But, at Jaleo they definitely let you set the pace.

For the second course, Eloise got the cono de salmon crudo con huevas de trucha which is basicallly a cone of salmon tartare and roe. It was very fresh and bite-sized. Although E is a HUGE fan of sushi, no one needs to eat more than a baby ice cream cone sized amout of fish eggs. Out of everything she had, this would be the one thing she passed one. And, that’s only becuase everything else stood out more!

Whereas Tess chose Patatas bravas, which are a Jaleo classics that she may or may not have pronounced as “pastas bravas”…whoops. This was a huge portion for a tapas-sized plate and would be great to share as an appetizer. In fact, I couldn’t even finish it and we ended up wrapping up and taking it home to eat for lunch the next day.

We also got a lovely little bottles of rosé for the table which complimented most of our meal and was kept on ice behind us. It was wonderful how it was just poured without asking and a true testament to how attentive the waiters at Jaleo are (seriously, they even brought us extra bread…#goals). Not to mention, they had discounted bottles in honor of restaurant week, which made this great deal feel even better.

For our third course, Tess went with Croquetas de pollo which were amazing and definitely a favorite of the meal. Not because they are particularly amazing or unique…but for the fact that they tasted so good. Basically, the Croquetas are just giant mozzarella sticks with chicken in them. They were light and delightfully crisp, not to mention filling. Eloise had the Arroz cremoso de setas, basically creamy cheese and mushroom risotto. It was exceptional. Cheese and cream and everything that will make your stomach hurt but just tastes delicious is the best.

Finally, for the fourth dinner course Eloise went with lomo de cerdo con salsa de queso Valdeon.While T didn’t make the best choice with mini butifarra con puré de patatas y salsa de romero which is pork loin with roasted onion and blue cheese sauce. It was perfectly cooked (which can sometimes be hard to master). While T didn’t make the best choice with mini butifarra con puré de patatas y salsa de romero, she still greatly appreciated the mashed potatoes and light sauce that came with them. The sausages were anything but tiny and were actually quite large and impossible to finish with one more dessert course on the way.

For the dessert course, we both ordered different things and were delightfully blown away by how good they were. Seriously, sometimes restaurants seem to phone in the dessert menus…its always too processed or too dry or…just too boring. But, Jaleo continued to impress until the very end. Tess went with the Helados y sorbetes caseros con ‘carquinyolis’ in the flan ice cream flavor which rivaled even my favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s…and that’s saying something. E went with an equally delightful and well crafted pan con chocolate. Basically a chocolate pudding which was the perfect size and reminded us of “dirt” the chocolate oreo crumb pudding-things with gummy worms. It was the more ~adult~ version of that and had a carmelized bread thin, olive oil drops and brioche ice cream. It was the perfect combination.

Overall, I would say this was one of the best restaurant week meals we’ve ever had. It most likely has to do with the fact that the dishes are all a great size, chosen mostly from the classic menu, and are actually really good. We’ll definitely be back again (and have been before) but felt like we got such a great bang-for-our-buck deal. Always a good feeling to have when you leave a restaurant.

P.S. Don’t forget to checkout the bathrooms.