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Oyamel, Daikaya or Zaytinya

Hi - I will be in DC with my husband in the end of September. I want to make a reservation at one of the three restaurants - Oyamel, Daikaya or Zaytinya. Because they all seem to be in the same area and we want to spend our nights exploring different areas I feel that I need to choose one. I initially make the reservation at Daikaya but am now wondering if that was the right choice.... I had hoped for a tasting menu - although that is not necessary. Both the other restaurants have reasonable tasting menus. Any thoughts on the best choice? Other suggestions are welcome too. (not too pricy, great atmosphere, memorable food) Thank You!!

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  1. Zaytinya is more reliable these days than Oyamel. Oyamel can be great but sometimes veers into such saltiness. It's not a good bet for that one meal.

    1. Not a big fan of Oyamel. There are better tacos to be had elsewhere and I don't think guacamole is enough of a reason to go to a restaurant. Daikaya and Zaytinya are both good choices. If you want Japanese food then I don't think you'd be disappointed with Daikaya. The d├ęcor is really unique but can get really loud. When you say not too pricy how much are you thinking? I think you get more value at Zaytinya if you need to watch how much you're spending.

      1. It seems that Oyamel is out. What about Jaleo? As far as price - we don't mind paying for great food I just don't want it to be ridiculous (such as minibar - $225! I am sure its worth it but not for us this time). I would be willing to pay up to $120 or so for a tasting menu if it was great. Any others thoughts? We are staying in Georgetown so please let me know if you have other suggestions. Thank you!

        4 Replies
        1. re: amandacaney

          You can have a good meal at any one of those restaurants. But if you're willing to do a tasting menu in the 120 range it opens up a lot of options. Guess it depends on what kind of experience and cuisine you're looking for. Ethnic, avant-garde, French etc.

          1. re: amandacaney

            I have only been to the Jaleo in Bethesda and each time, I find myself wondering how it stays in business. When the concept of tapas was new, and it was trendy...but it has been years and the food is meh at best and quite inconsistent. I can't say if the other branches are better or not. I happen to enjoy Zaytinya - it has always been fun, good food - though VERY noisy. Can't speak to Daikaya.

            By the way, I agree with others re: Oyamel. I have had a few terrific meals but mostly not. Have you considered Ceiba? Same general area, really nice, good food, much quieter if you are interested in actually talking to one another.

            Not in the same area, but with your budget and interests, I would also consider CityZen. In a class by itself.

            1. re: amandacaney

              The food at Jaleo is better than ever, though it can get pricey. For me, the verduras are not only the least expensive part of the menu, but also the best. In addition, the patatas braves, the tortilla espanol and the quail in rosemary sauce are excellent.

              1. re: Steve

                I've been to the 7th St DC Jaleo a couple times recently, including last night, and it does seem better than ever (in my very humble opinion). The patatas bravas last night, that I unilaterally ordered, we ordered extra bread to mop up the sauces, so good. This week they have the special tomato menu, fyi, including an interesting shandy-like cocktail with tomato water.... Really liked the special menu's gazpacho, very different than the classic one that we also ordered.

                We've also walked in and been seated immediately.

                I've always loved Zaytinya, but haven't been in a long time. What's the tartare dish there? Really like that one.

            2. I would consider Bibiana.

              1. Daikaya is delicious but I've only had the dumplings and ramen, no tasting menu. Also see if you can get the backroom as the main area is crowded and loud.

                1. Hands down, no contest Daikaya. My meal there a month ago was excellent and we didn't even sample the meat dishes because I was with a pescatarian. Great addition to the DC dining scene.

                  Personally I'm not a huge fan of Zaytinya or Oyamel. If you want a Jose Andres restaurant I would recommend Jaleo.

                  1. Of those, I'd choose Zaytinya -- although I agree that Jaleo would be perhaps the best choice in that neighborhood. But if you can get to Daikaya for ramen, downstairs, I'd fit that in, too. It's really fantastic. (I haven't been to the izakaya upstairs, but have heard very mixed things.)

                    If you can go a bit outside the Penn Quarter/Chinatown location, you might want to try securing a table (go early) at Little Serow. Alternatively, sounds as if Seki, Doi Moi, Kapnos and Estadio would be very good choices for the sort of thing you're seeking.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Marty L.

                      I've been only to the Izakaya upstairs and thought it was excellent. We went on the earlier end and didn't have any of the noise issues people have complained about on this board and other places.

                      Also agree that Kapnos is probably one of the best small plates restaurants in DC right now. I've had 2 meals there so far and LOVE it.

                    2. I like Oyamel as a more casual meal. Not an exciting tasting menu type experience.

                      I've never had anything but great meals at Zaytinya. They also have an excellent weekend brunch.

                      Have you considered Proof? It's in the same area, and has a nice tasting or traditional menu. Great wine options too.

                      A little north of the gallery place/PQ area is Rogue 24. They have a shortened version of their typical 24 course tasting for around $120. It's really an enjoyable evening experience -- and you get to see and talk to the chef (at least we did on our visit, I assume it's typical).

                      1. Thank you everyone for all the suggestions! It makes we wish I were in DC more often to try all these amazing places out. What I am thinking so far is to go to Daikaya for ramen and dumplings for lunch and then have dinner at Jaleo. I can't wait! I will have two other nights so maybe we will have a chance to try a few more places out.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: amandacaney

                          If you're craving something with a little heat there's an off the menu Spicy Miso ramen available.

                          1. re: amandacaney

                            Make sure you get the miso ramen at Daikaya.

                            1. re: Steve

                              I agree with Steven and S&B that the miso and spicy miso ramen at Daikaya are excellent. But if that's not your thing, I've recently had shio and veggie versions that were also fantastic. The shoyu is the "weak" link of the five -- yet it's still very good.