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Jul 6, 2009 11:45 AM

Spanish food in NOVA or DC - Jaleo??

We are coming to the area next week to take my daughter and her boyfriend out to dinner for her birthday. We have been to Spain and are big fans of the food. I looked at Cafe Atlantica but that looks to be more south american than Spanish. Is Jaleo good? Is it authentic? Is there a big difference between the locations? There is one in Crystal City and since we are staying there and my daughter lives very close by, I thought it would be a convenient choice...but not if it is lousy. Any advice?

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  1. Taberna del Alabardero (I believe it is 18th & I Street NW) is your best bet. I believe it is the only Spanish restaurant designated by the Spanish govt as a Spanish restaurant. It is authentic and they have a great HH special - half off all tapas and sangria.

    Their tortilla espanol is to DIE for! And Manolo, the bartender is awesome!

    2 Replies
    1. re: foreverfoodie79

      I agree. Jaleo is good, but Taberna del Albardero is the best (although also much more expensive). Their tapas are delicious and very authentic. My boyfriend, who lived in Spain for awhile, always goes to Taberna when he wants a taste of Spain.

      If you decide to go for something more affordable though, I think the Jaleo is Gallery Place/Chinatown is quite good.

      If you find yourself in Georgetown I have also been enjoying Bodega a lot lately, especially their croquettes. (Although the croquettes at Taberna are the stuff that dreams are made of!).

      1. re: Elyssa

        so good to know - i have been wanting to try Bodega but havent heard any first hand reports.

    2. Taberna is like an old school Spanish restaurant, more traditional and Jaleo is like a newer tapas place that likes to innovate on Spanish tapas.

      Both are very Spanish, but right now in Spain you have the old guard way of cooking, but they are on the forefront of the new modern cooking techniques, as well, so it depends on what type of Spanish food you want.

      I love the croquettes at Taberna and the white sangria and the chorizo wrapped in potato at Jaleo.

      1. Thanks for the feedback. Taberna sounds great. I looked at the website and it certainly appears to be authentic. And the half off deal sounds pretty sweet too.

        1. both restaurants are excellent. Taberna is kind of pricey but if you do the special and get tapas you will be ok. I also love Jaleo which has about 60 choices of tapas, cold tapas, and seasonal tapas. they also have other dishes such as paella and we often will get a large dish of paella to split amongst the table in addition to the tapas. I think you are safe with either choice

          3 Replies
          1. re: dining with doc

            Note that the discount tapas at Taberna is only at the bar during happy hour, not in the dining room, and the bar is PACKED most nights of the week. Get there at open if you want a seat...

            1. re: DanielK

              Actually we have gone a few nights and they have seated us and let us have the half price tapas special, so you might call and ask.

              1. re: DanielK

                They allow you to sit down sometimes, in the dining room behind the bar. You just have to ask nicely.

                I believe the half off tapas is only served until 7pm (but double check that time). They also have 1/2 off sangria.

            2. I go to Taberna for the Happy Hour from time to time. That way, the overpriced tapas are just reasonably priced. So I like the place. But Taberna is by no means an excellent restaurant. The food can be quite bland. If you go, I suggest going for items like razor clams or rabbit (if on the menu) that you can't find everywhere.

              There are about a dozen or so dishes that I love at Jaleo including grilled asparagus, patatas bravas, spinach with raisins, date and bacon fritters, tortilla espanol, mini-chorizo. That's a great start. I've been to the CC location once, and I thought it was fine, but not necessarily a representative sample.

              I have not been to Spain.