Jaleo is a higher-priced tapas restaurant chain in the Washington, D.C. area. Eric and I went to the one in in Arlington’s Crystal City shopping district for a romantic dinner about a month ago. I love tapas, but my experience with it (at the time) was limited to La Tasca (a tapas chain) and Nerv, a now-closed Blacksburg restaurant and nightclub (that was exquisite – the food, at least).
Eric and I were pleased to find that the Restaurant Week menu had been extended one extra week at Jaleo. We found the service quite pleasant, and our meal was mouth-watering. Here is what we sampled. It’ll give you a good idea of what you can expect to find at a Spanish tapas restaurant, although I can’t guarantee it will be as good as Jaleo.
(For those of you who are unfamiliar with tapas, the word refers to Spanish appetizers. At a tapas restaurant, you and your dining companion(s) order several different tapas and share the dishes to make a full meal.)
Starter – Bread, with olive oil and garlic for dipping
Gazpacho estilo Algeciras– The traditional cold soup with a hint of sherry. Fabulous.
Pan con tomate y queso Pasamontes – Toasted bread slices with a mixture of tomatoes and Manchego cheese. This is the type of dish that I want to savor, but wind up gobbling down like a bag of potato chips!
Pimientos del piquillo rellenos de queso – Soft red peppers filled with smooth goat cheese that melted in my mouth. I try to avoid dairy because it makes my face to break out, but when it comes to tapas, all bets are off!
Garbanzos que bien cocinas Tichi – Spinach and garbanzo bean stew. Hearty and satisfying. The seasoning in my serving wasn’t particularly noticeable.
Chistorra envuelta en patata frita – These are little chorizos wrapped in a really crispy potato. They were also lip-smackin’, but a tad too greasy for me.
Patatas bravas – Fingerling potatoes, with tomato sauce, garlic, and olive oil. I have had this dish at La Tasca, and found that it was tastier at Jaleo — far less bland.
Chorizo con puree de patatas – A delicious pork sausage seasoned with paprika, sitting in creamy mashed potatoes with a thin brown gravy. It tasted so good that I thought I would die from taste bud joy. Seriously, it was my favorite tapas out of all of them and it was difficult for me to share … but I did, out of the goodness of my little heart. 😉
Vieiras con calabaza y clementinas – Scallops with squash and clementines.
For dessert: Chocolate Torte and Helado Y Sorbet – sweet and satisfying. The chocolate was very rich. Helado Y Sorbet means ice cream and sorbet.
I chose a Clementine Old Fashioned as my drink. I’m sorry I didn’t think to sample their sangria instead. Not really a fan of Bourbon, but for some crazy reason I thought I might actually like this one.
Since Jaleo, I’ve eaten at La Tasca again, where I go fairly often. It’s amazing how much greasier and saltier the food at La Tasca seems now that I’ve had Jaleo. I’ve also eaten at Cafe Ole in Tenleytown (D.C.), which has fare such as my favorite stuffed grape leaves, and the most wonderful sangria. Try a tapas place the next time you’re out with a large and festive group of family or friends! You can visit Jaleo’s web site at this link: Jaleo