Jaleo (Bethesda, Maryland) – Of course I’ve heard great things about José Andrés and his restaurants over the years. So, when I was coming to D.C., I knew I really wanted to try his food – especially after seeing all of the amazing efforts he’s lead in helping Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He’s done so much to help the island just from deciding to go over there and do what he does best – making food.
Jaleo is actually one of two of his restaurants that I went to – the other is in D.C. I ended up in Bethesda because we were watching Star Wars that night, and this was one of the only theaters left that had enough seats for us!
The other restaurant we went to (which will be posted after this one), also had a really cool, vibrant aesthetic to it – just like Jaleo. There were rich, vibrant red all throughout the restaurant, and since they had special dishes and drinks inspired by clementines at that time (December), those were also incorporated into the decor too! I do wish I had my better quality camera at that point to do the restaurant justice, but I had a great dining experience with family, so that’s the important thing. 😉
I ordered the Clementine Soda, which had fresh clementine juice and mint. So delicious! It paired so well with all of the Spanish tapas that showcase the different flavors of Spain’s regions.
We ordered a few appetizer-like tapas. Well, I considered them as starters since we started off with these before moving into more entree type dishes. I love a good cheese plate and they had interesting options, so I built our cheese plate
You can choose three or five cheeses to build the plate. I chose a few of them because they came with interesting accompaniments. Among the cheeses we ordered were the Rey Silo Rojo (A bold spicy raw cow’s milk cheese with pimentón, paired with almonds and bitter orange jam) and the Rey Silo Blanco (intensely-flavored cow’s milk with honey, rosemary, and pine-nut shortbread). We also got a classic Patatas Bravas: fried potatos with spicy tomato sauce and aioli.
These were José Andrés’ take on Ferran Adría’s liquid olives, which have been served at his 3 (!!!) starred Michelin restaurant El Bulli, in Spain. I am not a fan of olives, so I passed on this, but I kinda wish I just sucked it up so I could experience it. My sister described it to me as biting into popping boba – it’s round and spherical, but when you bite into it, a burst of olive flavor comes out.
I mean, if we’re having Spanish food, we gotta get Paella! It comes in a giant pan and a waiter makes a show of it by mixing it all together. Then he served it to us each individually with an aioli on the side. We ordered the Arroz de pollo y setas silvestres, a traditional paella of chicken and chef selected mushrooms.
Onto the meat. We ordered the Pollo al ajillo con salsa verde, which is grilled marinated chicken served with parsley purée and garlic sauce. I loved the parsley sauce! The chicken was grilled perfectly and it had so much flavor.
And finally, we also ordered the lomo de buey con piquillos, which is grilled hanger steak with confit piquillo pepper. We got one that was more well done for me since I can’t eat overcooked meal.
And as if that wasn’t enough – we still had room for dessert. I LOVE flan so it was a no brainer. This is the flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema catalana, a classic Spanish custard with ‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and oranges. Hands down, this was the best flan I’ve ver had – and I’ve had my fair share of homemade flan!
Jaleo – or any Jose Andres restaurant – is a true dining experience that is worth trying out.