Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jaleo Restaurant Review

Ever heard of tapas? It’s not a dish, but a style of eating that comes from Spain. The basic concept is that multiple dishes are brought out in small portions that you share with everyone in your party. One of the best tapas restaurants in the country is Jaleo (and I don’t just say that – so do the critics!). Its 4 locations are in Bethesda, MA; Washington DC; Arlington, VA; and Las Vegas, NV.  It is another one of the great restaurants of chef José Andrés. His restaurants are critically acclaimed nationwide, and Jaleo certainly lives up to its name at the Arlington (Crystal City) location.
The restaurants in general encourage walk-ins, but do accept reservations, especially for large parties. The Jaleo I dined at is located at the heart of Crystal City. It’s a huge restaurant, but each table has a comfortable amount of space around it. The decorations are off beat – it seems like many patterns from different time periods, but they all work together somehow. The furniture is well maintained, and probably quite expensive from the look of it. Many different lamps, ceiling lights, and candles brighten up this restaurant, but to just the right degree where you can comfortably read the menu. They play Spanish music softly in the background. The dress code ranges from casual to formal, but most people dress in at least jeans and collared t-shirts. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, plus brunch on the weekends, but does not stay open later than 11pm. 
So now to move on to the best part – the food! The menu contains a variety of items, ranging from different pork and duck dishes, to Spanish omelets, to fancy chicken fingers! In our party we had 4 adults, 1 teenager, and 1 toddler. The waiter was very helpful when he explained to us (admittedly, we were quite confused) what we needed to do.
In tapas, there is no concept of ordering your own dish. So as a group we decided on multiple different items we wanted to share. Each dish, although small, starts from $7 to $32, though most stay in the $8-$18 area. We had about 15 to 16 dishes for a grand total of $205. All of these dishes are made with premium Spanish ingredients, such as cured ham from the black footed Iberico pigs, found and bred in Spain. As a matter of fact, we had that dish! 
We also tried many other things such as Serrano ham, spicy pork sausages, traditional chicken fritters, fried dates wrapped in bacon, trout wrapped in ham, and other exotic dishes and desserts. Some items we enjoyed thoroughly – actually, most of them. Obviously there were some foods that didn’t exactly cooperate with our taste buds, but that’s alright. You’ve got to take chances when it comes to food. I would definitely recommend this place if you’re looking for relaxed environment, but exotic food! It’s really great, and was definitely one of the most unique places I’ve been to! 

Name of restaurant/address:  Jaleo – Bethesda, Washington DC, Arlington, Las Vegas
Cuisine: Spanish tapas
Price: $7-$32 per dish  
Ambiance: Modern, upscale
Dress code:  Casual to formal 
Note: This is not a quick eat - it does take quite some time since you are ordering multiple dishes. Also, I did not get to take pictures, so these pictures do not reflect what I ate, they are examples.

Pictures from,, 

Conducted by Shohini 


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