August 2013 Z-Pick of the Month: Jaleo

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Tapas at Jaleo in the Crystal City Shops

By Holly Burnett

Internationally-famous celebrity chef José Andrés is the owner of Jaleo.  Courtesy photo
Internationally-famous celebrity chef José Andrés is the owner of Jaleo.
Courtesy photo.

If you and your friends enjoy sharing several appetizers rather than each ordering a main course, then tapas, classical small dishes from Spain, is for you! And no one does the tapas experience better than Jaleo (jaleo.com), Chef José Andrés’ casually elegant eatery at 2250 A Crystal Drive in Crystal City. Zebra staff had no idea what to order, so we went on the advice of our knowledgeable and bubbly server, Nakita, and Head Chef Rodolfo Guzman. A few moments later, in a pace of plates as if we were Iron Chef America judges, we were presented with fried salt cod fritters with honey alioli; seared scallops with butternut squash purée and oranges; watermelon with tomatoes, goat cheese, oranges and pistachios; wild mushroom rice with mushrooms and Idiazábal cheese; grilled asparagus with romesco sauce; and fried dates wrapped in bacon and apple mustard sauce. Each dish was just pure, simple elegance. In addition, Jaleo’s gazpachos as well as its grilled cheese sandwich are menu notables, elevated far beyond the traditionally expected flavors. (We ordered seconds!) Desserts, such as custard with ‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and oranges is one of several perfect endings to this festive, casual Spanish, yet orchestrated meal. Visit Jaleo today. It is a truly unique culinary experience (and reasonably priced) that will make it one of your top dining destinations in the metropolitan area.

The open and dramatic dining room at Jaleo.  Courtesy photo.
The open and dramatic dining room at Jaleo. Courtesy photo.