José Andrés, a Spanish American James Beard Award-winning chef, known internationally for his culinary creations has blessed DC residents and visitors with six innovative and delicious restaurants in addition to his many other restaurants around the world. His passion for food advocacy and hunger issues are one of the factors that make him a stand out chef in the restaurant world.
He is devoted to sharing culture through food, and all of his restaurants revolve around the concept of “tapas style” small plates so that you can share them between everyone and try as many dishes as possible. His mission to “change the world through the power of food” is inspirational, and his creativity is demonstrated in every dish served.
This is José Andrés fast-casual creation that allows you to purchase a healthy, fresh and hearty meal. The main focus of beefsteak is the “vegetables, unleashed” concept that offers customers the freshest, seasonal vegetables around.
The menu is unlimited, but there are five pre-constructed bowls that you can choose from if you’re overwhelmed by decision-making. In addition to these grain/salad bowls there are also two soups available: the Carrot Miso Soup for $7.49 and Gazpacho Bowl for $5.99, made in-house every day. If you are still unsure about what to order, you can get their famous vegetarian sandwich known as the BEETsteak Sandwich for $5.99. It consists of marinated beets, pickled red onions and Chipotle mayo on an Olive Oil Brioche Bun.
And this is how it works: firstly, you start by choosing five vegetables from a wide selection presented right in front of you. Then as you are picking your grains or lettuce for your bowl, you can watch the veggies being steamed. The base for your bowl can be bulgur, quinoa, rice or leafy greens. Then sauce it up by adding black bean, spicy tomato, garlic yogurt or cilantro.
After that you have the option of choosing a protein: avocado, poached egg, chicken, smoked salmon or mozzarella. You can then add some fresh toppings such as: cherry tomatoes, kimchi, radish, cucumber salad, seaweed salad, scallions, sprouts or romaine. Top it all off with a dressing: soy ginger, lemon honey, extra virgin olive oil or sherry vinegar.
Lastly, touch it up with your crunchy toppings: toasted sesame seeds, cranberries, almonds, corn nuts, crispy onions, pumpkin seeds, pretzels or toasted seaweed and voilà. The prices for a bowl range from $7.50-$15 depending on what your creative mind comes up with.
This José Andrés restaurant develops a refreshing mixture between Peruvian and Asian cuisines. The Peruvian-Asian influences are also reflected in the décor and ambience of the restaurant. To start your meal, I would suggest the Ensalada de Quinua that consists of quinoa, choclo, cucumber, Murasaki potato, fresh cheese and lettuce. This is the perfect-sized portion to share with someone or eat alone. The sweetness of the choclo, which is Peruvian corn, works well as a complement to the cheese.
As for main dishes my two favorites are featured in the pictures above and below. If you are a meat lover, you must try the Lomo Salteado, which is a perfectly cooked hanger steak that will melt in your mouth, with some fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, shishito peppers and shoestring potatoes on the side. You also have the option to add a fried egg. This dish is the epitome of a Peruvian and Chinese mix, and you will definitely regret sharing it with anyone else.
Another suggestion is the Arroz a la Cubana, which is a Cusco fried rice dish with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet plantains, salsa criolla and a fried egg. This beautifully presented dish creates a mix of sweet and savory tastes that blend so naturally together. You can opt for eating each ingredient separately or cutting everything up and mixing it around. In my opinion, mashing it up and combining all the ingredients together gives this dish a distinct taste that will blow your mind.
If you want authentic Mexican food, a great ambiance and tapas style plates then this José Andrés restaurant is the place for you. The fresh guacamole is prepared right in front of you by your server using ripe avocados, green tomatillo, serrano chile, crumbled queso fresco and served with a basket of warm tortilla chips. It is your decision about how mild or spicy you want it, so choose wisely.
Then it’s time for the Antojitos; the small entrées fresh out of the ocean. My favorite is the Ceviche con citricos which consists of striped bass in a pineapple-habanero marinade with citrus, jicama and fresno chiles. The sweet yet slightly sour taste of the pineapple mixed with the citrus flavors accent this fresh raw bass.
In the meat section: Albóndigas enchipotladas con queso doble crema which are meatballs in chipotle sauce with crumbled ‘double cream’ cheese and cilantro. These perfectly-sized tender meatballs have such rich flavors because they are immersed in a tomato sauce and spices.
In the seafood section: José Andrés camarones al mojo de ajo negro which are wild caught Gulf Coast white shrimp sautéed with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, lime and sweet aged black garlic. The firm crispy texture of the shrimp is softened by the light sauce they are sitting in. This dish has a kick to it because of the árbol chiles and poblano peppers, so watch out if you can’t handle the heat.
Don’t leave without trying one of their famous tacos made with hand-made corn tortillas. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try their specialty then you must get the Chapulines, made of sautéed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole. The crunchy texture of the grasshoppers creates a nice balance with the soft tortilla that envelopes it.
If you’d prefer something a little meatier, I would suggest the Chilorio de res: shredded beef braised in a rich and tangy sauce of pasilla and guajillo chiles, topped with white onions. This is my favorite taco because the meat is cooked to perfection and is combined with crunchy onions that adds a tangy flavor to it. However, the many other taco options ranging from Pork to Chicken to Mahi Mahi to Mushrooms are all worthy of recognition.
Jaleo is the epitome of José Andrés restaurants as he managed to bring Spain to DC. This restaurant serves authentic and traditional tapas and Paellas in a unique and casual atmosphere. To begin, I would recommend ordering the Plato de queso manchego Flor de Esgueva which is a very well-known Spanish cheese handmade using raw sheep’s milk. It has a sort of tangy flavor that goes perfectly with the warm fresh bread they serve. Then for your main dishes, I suggest ordering the gambas al ajillo because they are one of the most famous tapas, consisting of shrimp sautéed with garlic. The shrimp are served warm and dipped in the olive oil and garlic sauce for an everlasting taste.
Next would be the famous croquetas de pollo which are traditional chicken fritters served in an acrylic shoe. Many of José’s restaurants serve the croquetas in this shoe and it has become a signature of his. The unique and playful presentation just shows the extent of consideration and creativity that José Andrés and his team put into all the details in his restaurants.
If you need some greens to top it all off you should get the espárragos trigueros, which are grilled asparagus with romesco sauce. The romesco sauce consists of charred red peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic, and is then puréed with nuts and fried bread.
Zaytinya features Greek/Mediterranean tapas style meals in an open dining area that is always filled with laughter and conversations. The most amazing and distinct part about this restaurant is the warm homemade pita bread. I suggest ordering the Hommus and Baba Ghannouge from their spreads section on the menu to accompany the bread.
Now for the Vegetable Mezze section. I have two suggestions: the Spanakopita and the Mushroom Couscous. The former is a house-made phyllo filled with spinach and feta cheese. The balance between the crunchy texture of the phyllo and the creamy texture of the filling blends perfectly as you bite into it. The pureed spinach and feta crumbs on the outside also go well with the pita bread to soak it all up.
The Mushroom Couscous is a traditional Lebanese style couscous prepared with peas, mushrooms and garlic toum. This is the largest style of couscous and has a chewy, smooth texture to it. It is mixed with small, finely chopped mushrooms that don’t dominate the couscous but rather create a balance. This creamy dish is definitely worthwhile.
This is José Andrés luxury restaurant, offering an inventive and fixed tasting menu for parties of twelve people and the meal costs $250 per person. These creations are made right in front of you and that’s what makes the whole dining experience. These dishes are a combination of art, culinary expertise and science. They challenge and exceed the limits of how food can look and taste. Each bite leaves you more curious than the one before.
Once of his creations, featured above, is called the Waldorf Salad. This salad is placed between two apple meringue simulations of buns consisting of a mixture of apple, walnut, celery ice, pickled celery and dressing. The texture of these apple buns are smooth, light and filled with air so that when you place them in your mouth they melt right away. Imagine the sweet, sour and tangy flavors all blended together with a tint of crunchy celery to it.
Another piece of edible art is the Ibérico Sea Urchin, which is combined with an egg yolk sauce and placed in an Ibérico broth. The sauce seeps into the Urchin allowing the sweetness of the egg to combine with the salty flavor of the Urchin. The presentation never ceases to amaze me. José Andrés presents all of these innovative dishes on plates that relate to what you are eating. This one, for example, is placed in a bowl with a bumpy texture which is similar to the spiky texture of the Sea Urchin.