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Jaleo, Local Spanish Tapas Chain - Penn Quarter, Bethesda, and Crystal City

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Two friends and I went for food and drink after a 7ish showing of Volver nearby. Spanish movie, Spanish food. The movie was far more enjoyable. With each visit to Jaleo, I become progressively disheartened. I'm very close to saying "no mas." Individually, few dishes I have had there are "bad" per se, but many recent meals there have been so mediocre that when coupled with service that ranges from indifferent to surly, I just don't need to go back.

We sat at one of the bar-area tables because while the place was NOT packed, it looked like our party of three might have a wait for a regular table. The downside to sitting near the bar is that your server is the bar staff (and our barman seemed really, really put off having to take care of us) and if there's any sort of rush at the bar, prepare to be jostled by your fellow patrons.

We ordered anchovies with roasted red peppers, octopus, asparagus, potatoes with cabrales, dates wrapped in bacon and fried, chorizo with garlic mashed potatoes, half a carafe of red sangria and several glasses of wine. Interestingly enough, the waiter/bartender carded me, and only me. That was awkward. I'm 33 and surely do not appear to be underage.

The food ranged from tasty to OK to inedible. We ordered asparagus, even though it's not in season, because we really wanted something green, and it was very good. My friends really liked the anchovies, but left the "rubbery" octopus nearly untouched. I had plan to try one or both dishes as a part of my expand-your-horizons-damn-it! campaign, but the anchovy portion was rather small (didn't want my waste a bite of something my friends really enjoyed) and I was frightened by my friends' reaction to the octopus. Potatoes with blue cheese is hard to mess up in my book. Were they crisply fried potatoes? Err, no. But we ate every one of them and sopped up the remaining cheese sauce with bread. The chorizo has changed--last night the nuggets of sausage were probably twice the length they used to serve and strangely lacking in any spice. The garlic mashed potatoes were starchy and we didn't finish them. The dates we finished off, but not because they were so spectacular. We all love dates and love bacon so it's a combo that's tough to pass up, however the breading tasted stale.

As for the service, it was thisclose to sucking. After more than ten minutes of sitting ungreeted with menus, he finally came by after we snagged a member of the floor staff to confirm that our table had table service. We were ready to order not just drinks, but also food by that point, however he wasn't ready to take said order. We had to ask the same server three times for water and it finally arrived when our first dishes came. He left empty plates stack up on our small bar table until we called him over and asked him to help us make room.

None of the desserts appealed to us at the moment so we ordered up another round of drinks. The bill was just under $40 pp. It's sad to see a place I used to adore fall off this much.

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Two friends and I went for food and drink after a 7ish showing of Volver nearby. Spanish movie, Spanish food. The movie was far more enjoyable. With each visit to Jaleo, I become progressively disheartened. I'm very close to saying "no mas." Individually, few dishes I have had there are "bad" per se, but many recent meals there have been so mediocre that when coupled with service that ranges from indifferent to surly, I just don't need to go back.

Not that it matters all that much, but which location were you at? I've found that the DC one often fares better than MD or VA.

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Not that it matters all that much, but which location were you at? I've found that the DC one often fares better than MD or VA.
We were at the downtown DC location which is the one I've dined at most times.

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Just an F.Y.I. to anyone who enjoys the wines at Jaleo "Downtown" (480 7th Street, NW) my friend Brian Cook is the new wine manager there. Unless I'm wrong, he just started there today. A trained sommelier, Brian will bring a ton of enthusiasm and interest to the job. I'm sure the wines there are perfectly adequate at the moment, but I'm certain that Brian will "ramp them up" to even newer heights of fun and enjoyment.

Brian is registered here, and I hope that he posts about the fun things that they will be doing there. If you happen to stop by, give him a big DR.com "Hello!" :P He'll be happy to see you.

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I wish I had read this thread before I decided to have a lunch at the Bethesda location today. Absolutely nothing was good--the service was indifferent; my water glass was empty for 10 + minutes while my rice, mushroom, cheese glop congealed into an even more unappetizing mess, and the rest of the food wasn't much better. I just wanted something simple and tasty....There have to be better choices for a late lunch in Bethesda....

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There have to be better choices for a late lunch in Bethesda....

Bowl of soup at Raku? Last I checked, they serve lunch until 3pm.

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Still thinking about going to the Bethesda location this Thursday for Restaurant Week. Gazpacho, your choice from the cold, seasonal, and hot plates, and dessert. Somebody tell me how good it can be, please! The latest reviews here are a bit discouraging!

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We really enjoyed our Restaurant Week outing there on Thursday night!

Pickled vegetables, bread and olive oil, and gazpacho were quickly delivered.

My wife's three dishes were Apple and Manchego cheese salad, Boneless rib of pork with slow cooked piquillo peppers, and chicken and ham fritters. For dessert she had a hazelnut torte. My dishes were Shredded salt cod fish with tomato, black olives and mixed greens; Sweet peppers stuffed with goat cheese and mushrooms; and Slow cooked piquillo pepper stew. For dessert I had flan with orange slices and an after dinner drink.

Not bad for the price! The only extra was for the Spanish beer I had.

Everything was good but the winners were the pork ribs, the salt codfish, the pepper stew (which was a bit oily but very sweet!), and the desserts. I am not usually a hazelnut fan, but that dessert was delicious.

They must have seen us coming -- service was very friendly and efficient. I think the second dish came out while I was still eating the first, but I didn't mind since that night we really didn't want to linger.

We'll definitely return!

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I've said before that the lunch sandwiches at the downtown Jaleo are a great and delicious deal. This week I enjoyed a bocata de calamares como lo hacen en Madrid (Madrid-style fried squid sandwich with alioli and caramelized onions). The squid is great. Meaty and tender. The batter is crisp and not oily. Served on a toasted roll. This is just a great sandwich at only $7.95. Comes with a side dish of your choice. I always go for the Spanish potato salad. Not just potato, but also peas, big chunks of hard boiled egg, and roasted red peppers.

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I posted this over on the News and Media section, but since there is probably going to be great interest...and there is a Jaleo viewing party component...etc. etc.

Wash Post is reporting that Jose Andres Iron Chef battle will air April 1. Apparently taking on Bobby Flay. Jose will be hosting a charity viewing party at the Crystal City Jaleo.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/goingoutgur...ndres.html#more

Don: feel free to move this where ever. I know there has been past mention of this but couldn't find the thread.

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I posted this over on the News and Media section, but since there is probably going to be great interest...and there is a Jaleo viewing party component...etc. etc.

Wash Post is reporting that Jose Andres Iron Chef battle will air April 1. Apparently taking on Bobby Flay. Jose will be hosting a charity viewing party at the Crystal City Jaleo.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/goingoutgur...ndres.html#more

Don: feel free to move this where ever. I know there has been past mention of this but couldn't find the thread.

The above link didn't work for me but this one should be OK.

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I've said before that the lunch sandwiches at the downtown Jaleo are a great and delicious deal. This week I enjoyed a bocata de calamares como lo hacen en Madrid (Madrid-style fried squid sandwich with alioli and caramelized onions). The squid is great. Meaty and tender. The batter is crisp and not oily. Served on a toasted roll. This is just a great sandwich at only $7.95. Comes with a side dish of your choice. I always go for the Spanish potato salad. Not just potato, but also peas, big chunks of hard boiled egg, and roasted red peppers.

I had this again last week. A little oily this time, but damn this is a great sandwich. If you ever feel you want a little taste of Madrid, find a seat at Jaleo for lunch.

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Dudes,

Could everyone sign in today and post about their most recent restaurant experience? I'm curious to see where people here have been dining. Hell, post on the McDonald's thread if you want to (I admit it - I went there once last week myself).

Cheers!

Rocks.

I went to Jaleo in Bethesda on Saturday night and it was not good at all unfortunately. It seems as though they have tweaked some recipees for the bad. I ordered:

pulpo a la gallega - octopus was hard and bland (this dish is always hit or miss).

Patatas cabrales - They went cheap on this one and now they dont serve cabrales cheese over the potatoes, just the sauce

Chipirones en tinta - it was fine, its been better before

Setas al ajillo - I can't believe how bad this was, it tasted of lemon and very strong thyme flavor. This dish used to be good, now its soaked in lemon juice, whole soggy stems and leaves of parsley, thyme and bay leaf. A little too much here for what used to be a good dish

Mejillones en escabeche - another dissapointment, the sauce was not escabeche it was a grated tomato sauce.

Other than the food, service was great and drinks were good. But I'm sad to say that Jaleo is definately out of my list of go to (cant go wrong) restaurants. Maybe it was a bad day in the kitchen but i doubt it, my issue had more to do with the recipee than the cooking involved.

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We had a perfectly fine lunch at the DC Jaleo today. Standouts were bacalao fritters with aioili, beet salad with Cabrales, and the rosemary sorbet. The kids chowed on chorizo with mashed potatoes, calamari with aioli, and the apple and manchego salad. We sat outside drinking rose and watching all the poor suckers streaming in to Austin Grill next door - I wanted to trip them and make them sit down and expand their horizons, not just their waistlines.

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Had lunch at Jaleo today. As always, the patatas bravas are such a treat, as always. Special of figs wrapped in serrano ham was tasty, although the vinegrette didn't quite work, in my estimation. The dessert of chocolate torte with candied nuts was quite large, filling, smooth and addicting. And, after traveling in Sevilla last year, I love to have a cortado after my meal. I have never seen it anywhere else in the US, except Jose Andres' establishments. It brings me back.

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My heart, she is broken. I am wallowing in a pit of despair. Break-ups are awful, but when you throw the spectre of "deployment" in there, it just gets brutal.

A beacon of hope? "Splitting" (my 70 to my friend's 30) a bottle of Cristalino Rose Cava; patatas bravas that happily came out very crispy and golden; croquetas de pollo that had a crunchy exterior and a creamy, satisfying interior; rich and hot chorizo on mashed potatoes, which I would like to say reminded me of home, because they are that comforting and wonderful, except I grew up not knowing what chorizo was, so thank you, revisionist history; and tender grilled beef loin with roasted green pepper and Cabrales sauce.

It is my best practice to skip dessert at the Crystal City Jaelo, as the overall impression of that course at that locaiton is "dry," so later on, I continued to marinate in tears and Ben and Jerry's S'Mores.

After a few days of not being able to bring myself to eat, this was a spectacularly good meal. Jaleo is always there, like an old friend. An old friend who occasionally confuses my order or forgets to refill my water, but a friend nonetheless.

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My heart, she is broken. I am wallowing in a pit of despair.
I hope it heals quickly. :blink:

I stopped in for a quick lunch today after viewing the Hopper exhibit. I had wanted to try Oyamel, but was in a mood to huddle in a corner, and the bar there is much too exposed. Bocata de pollo Menorquino (fried chicken breast stuffed with Mahon cheese and sobrasada) mostly hit the spot, with surprisingly good tomatoes and some kind of addictive, garlicky green sauce to make up for the slightly overdone chicken. The "Spanish Potato Salad" was fab, though, as was the service. Total, plus tax, for the sandwich and fresh limeade: $13 and change.

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My heart, she is broken. I am wallowing in a pit of despair.

Laura, best wishes for getting out of the pit soon. Hang in there.

My +1 and I went to the Crystal City location on Sunday night with a friend. I won't go into the entire meal, but the date and bacon fritters were absolutely spectacular, at least to my taste - crunchy and salty on the outside, sweet and nearly creamy-soft on the inside. We ended up ordering another plate, which came out exactly the same. The shrimp with garlic came with plenty of yummy golden garlic slivers.

One plate that was just okay was the piece of monkfish. Cooked fine, just not terribly exciting, and I can't even remember what the sauce was...

The cava sangria was tasty as always. An abomination of sangria, perhaps, but the Licor 43 in there is really nice.

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the date and bacon fritters were absolutely spectacular

Agreed. Simply prepared dishes are often the most memorable! When I go to Jaleo, this gets ordered every single time.

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My girlfriend and I ate dinner at the Crystal City Jaleo last night (10/25). I hadn't been to Jaleo in, literally, years (and therefore had not been to the Crystal City location), but it is back on my restaurant radar with a vengeance.

We started by sharing the "classic" gazpacho and the "traditional white" gazpacho. The classic gazpacho was, as advertised, a straightforward take on the simple cold soup, and it conveyed a fresh, rich flavor, given body by olive oil. While the classic gazpacho was all we hoped for, the white gazpacho was nothing less than sensational. The bowl landed on my side of the table, but my girlfriend, after her first taste, was not shy about spooning out her share of the soup. The clear bowl set on the table showcases a layer of slivered almonds, white grapes, and crab meat, over which the thick, white soup is poured by a server. The soup, tasting of almonds and subtle sweetness, manages to be both creamy and light, and the crab, slivered almonds, and grapes give each savored spoonful a wonderful texture. I believe I used the word "fantastic" twice while eating the dish.

A small plate of grilled asparagus in almond-tomato sauce was perfectly good, though the plate (and our stomachs) probably had room for more asparagus than is served. The patatas bravas, a reflexive order, were firing on all cylinders; hot, smothered in tomato sauce and garlic aioli, brown on the edges, and tender inside. Chicken croquettes were another fried indulgence, the chicken softened and made lush with b├ęchamel sauce and encased in a crisp crust. The chicken croquettes were well-served by a side of requested honey aioli, a sauce that is on its way to becoming one of my favorite condiments.

The bread was a yawn, but the coffee was a full-flavored pleasure, and the service, food delivery, and payment process were prompt, which was appreciated, as we were trying to get to a movie. Next time, however, we have every incentive to linger over a few more dishes.

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We stopped by for snacks after the Shakespeare Theatre matinee, and ordered the butter nut squash soup, mushroom and serrano croquetas, spinach with pine nuts and raisins, patatas bravas, chorizo with garlic mash, and chanterelles with cabrales sauce. Everything was on target but the chanterelles, which seemed to be missing the cabrales, and the snooze-inducing soup. Desserts were the same old - I wish they would shake that menu up a little. Jaleo has the weakest desserts of all of Andres' restaurants.

ETA: The sangria is much too sweet. I'll stick to tinto the next time.

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The Crystal City Jaleo had been excellent on are three last visits...the new manager has instilled the staff with a higher degree of quality control...highlights from those visits have been the grilled squid with green olive puree (one of the best calamari dishes in the DC area IMHO), the Basque crab stew, the grilled chicken with green/garlic sauce and the white gazpacho with crab. All of the standards (like the fritters and patatos bravos) have been fresher tasting and more carefully presented than in the past. Sietsma's third star is, at least for now, earned at this location. Also a nice Saturday lunch at Bebo, which offered its full menu for the marathon weekend...great whole spaghetti with rapini, garlic and hot pepper and a nice marinara pizza with eggplant.

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We went to the DC Jaleo last night with some out of town guests who are staying at L'Enfant. The patatas bravas were spot on, hot, delicious, and crispy, and my favorite of the evening was the roasted golden beet salad with walnuts and blue cheese that is on the specials menu right now. Also ordered and complimented: chorizo with mashed potatoes (although the sausage eaters liked the one with beans better), the fried shark, skirt steak with piquillo confit, garlic mushrooms, cod fritters, spinach with pine nuts, scallops, calamari, garlic shrimp, and apples with manchego. A couple of tortillas made the rounds, but I didn't have any and I don't remember any comments. The chickpea-spinach stew and asparagus with romesco were OK. The bread was, well, bread. A couple of people had wine and we ordered two pitchers of sangria that were pretty good - not as sweet as they have been in the past.

I like Jaleo for groups like this (four locals, two out-of-towners, two are vegetarians, one is a fish-a-tarian, one is lactose-intolerant - you get the picture) because if you don't like a dish, it's not a big issue, just pass it on and grab the next one or order something else. They were fairly busy for a Monday, and our service was very good. We've never been to a branch other than downtown, and, as usual, we were happy and will be back.

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My last visit to Jaleo was pretty poor. Maybe it was a bad choice for New Year's Day, but the signs posted at Zaytinya said "Visit Jaleo!" and we did. The server was brusque. The chick pea stew (sorry if I can't remember the offical name), which I have loved in the past, was flat. The tortilla espanola (potato omelette), which I had pronounced as "delicious" on a previous visit was undercooked and leaky. Even the Sangria tasted tired - as if it had been made hours before. I left feeling let down.

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