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Is Oyamel good?

Has anyone dined at Oyamel? Got a big date this weekend and I want to make sure it is worth it.

Are the grasshoppers actually tasty in the taco setting or is it a waste of time?

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  1. The grasshoppers are salty and dry - not really worth $5 per taco. I think people eat them in other countries because they're cheap, whereas here it's expensive compared to other tacos. Oyamel is okay. One might argue it's the best Mexican restaurant in DC but that just shows you how deplorable DC's Mexican restaurant scene is. I actually prefer more hole-in-the wall places for authentic tacos, but you don't want to take a date there.

    1. I have been disappointed again and again by Jose Andres' restaurants. Oyamel is decent but not fantastic.

      3 Replies
      1. re: foreverfoodie79

        I agree, I think they are overrated. The tapas/small plates craze is now everywhere. Yes, Jose introduced it to DC, but I don't think his product is necessarily what it used to be.

        1. re: foreverfoodie79

          isn't it a shame that josé andrés' restaurants don't serve the gorgeously delicioso dishes i crave on his "made in spain" show?

        2. The tacos de chapulines are
          - crunchy
          - moist
          - taste more like spice, lime, and cilantro than grasshopper

          There's no doubt that you're eating grasshopper, cause you can distinguish the legs and thorax, but I couldn't find any kind of insect taste as I ate both of mine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: WestIndianArchie

            the grasshopper tacos at $5 each are worth trying (and enough to share just a bite with another person) and worth trying if you have never had grasshopper. basically in the frying process whatever is inside the grasshopper gets fried out so you are just easting the crispy crunchy friend shell. after the first time, I don't feel the need to reorder, but it was definitely fun to try.

          2. I had a bite of my husband's grasshopper taco...he liked it, but I thought it was just okay (preferred my baby pig confit taco). WestIndianArchie's observation is spot on. The night we had it, they made the taco really tangy...too much. I was fine just having that one bite, wouldn't want to have it again.

            1. Crunchy and spicy, no other flavor than the spices. Ok at best. If you go, definitely order the salmon ceviche; it is excellent. In general, stay away from the snacks (tacos,etc) and go for stuff you can't get elsewhere.

              1. Other than the grasshopper tacos, which are mediocre, I will strongly disagree with the rest of the replies here. Oyamel is a very good restaurant.

                Guacamole is expensive, but 1000 times better than the slop they serve at Rosa Mexicano. Ceviches are very good, and the "gazpacho salad" is clever and tasty.

                Other highlights are the snapper, cactus, and anything from the Carnes section of the menu. I like sitting at the bar sometimes - pleasant bartenders and an interesting cocktail list. There's a coupon for a free "squash blossom cocktail" on the website.

                2 Replies
                1. re: DanielK

                  I actually enjoy Rosa's guacamole, which is simply avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and salt. I have never had Oyamel's guac - is there something else in there? Althougth I enjoy Rosa's guac, it's not hard to do it yourself at home.

                  1. re: DanielK

                    I agree. I like Oyamel. I am a native Southern Californian and have eaten more than my share of authentic Mexican food (mmmm Oaxacan chicken tamales infused with Mole). Meso-American food is not for everyone. Oyamel is not a fajitas, nachos, gloppy friloles and margaritas type of a place. It is a place that has huitlacoche, chapulines and mole. I really like it and would eat there often were it near my office and I had a bigger lunch budget.

                  2. i think prior experience and expectations are a major player in whether Oyamel will be to your liking. If you're a nachos and burritos kind of lover, then Oyamel will disappoint. If you're looking for an authentic representation of Mexican antojitos with a fine dining twist, then Oyamel will probably satisfy.

                    Personally, I've found the food to range from "meh" to pretty darn good. I like what Jose Andres is doing and respect the Oyamel effort tremendously. However, after dining on street food in and around Mexico City, it's just not as good as the places I've been to there - which means, if you're looking for a substitute for that, it will disappoint.

                    But go and try it for yourself. If you've never had huitlacoche or chapulines, give them a try (though they've never had chapulines in stock whenever I went). The tacos are small and worth having a sample.

                    Though, if you are looking for the corazon of Mexican cooking, there are other places to go in the region.

                    1. I just had lunch there Saturday, and my items ranged from brilliant to good. The squash flower soup (with hen of the woods and poblanos) with the tableside presentation was brilliant, the squash flower tamal was good. The skirt steak would fall in to the quite good category, a perfectly done piece of beef over a sauce that I could not stop sopping up with chips after the meat was gone...I would definitely go back, although I also prefer tacos from less formal places.

                      1. Most of the items (including the grasshopper tacos) were INCREDIBLY salty during my visit. The place seems more like a trendy gimmick than a chowhound destination.

                        1. I think it is definitely decent. No better or worse than Rosa Mexicano. Probably overpriced given the quality. Casa Oaxaca in Adams Morgan is probably just as good as Oyamel for 2/3 the price.

                          1. I think it is my favorite of Jose Andres' new style tapas restaraunts. it beats Zatinya and SEI by a long shot in my book. Many of the dishes hit close to the mark for real mexican flavors and some you could even call traditional (despite the small plates thing). It doesn't fill a Mexican food craving for me, but it's a fun place, with good atmosphere and food overall. Just don't expect to be totally wowed like it's the best dining spot in the city and you will enjoy it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: arose

                              SEI is not a Andres restaurant.