(The first dinner's desserts including the pastel de tres leches con pina)
In the past two weeks, I found myself at Oyamel... twice. I had been to Oyamel a few times before over the years -- how could I not have wanted to go, after all I love Mexican food and Jose Andres -- but in general, I often forgot about Oyamel when thinking about restaurants to go to. So when some friends from out of town were visiting and a mutual friend suggested Oyamel, I thought to myself ooh, I haven't been there in ages. And this time, it all clicked. Perhaps it was the margherita at the bar with the salt foam (the salt foam is a must, even for me, as someone who doesn't like salt with her margheritas). Perhaps it was the spicy guacamole. Or perhaps it was just the alive atmosphere Oyamel had that night and the fun company. Whatever it was, I found myself the next morning craving Oyamel again and, oddly, in particular the queso fundido.
Which brought me back to Oyamel last week for a pre-show dinner. Mr. J and I were going to go see Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert (yay!!) at the Warner. Oyamel is only several blocks from Warner and I don't recall ever taking Mr. J there -- with our mutual love for Mexican food (our first date actually was at a Mexican restaurant...), it seemed like the perfect option. Even though we were eating on the earlier side, the restaurant was packed (good thing we made a reservation!). The restaurant seems to have a very active bar scene despite the small(er) size of their bar -- the hora feliz (happy hour) deal is a good one ($4 class margs, ponche, and selected draft beer, 2 for $4 tacos, halff off all wines by the glass). The festive atmosphere is punctuated with bright colors and a friendly staff.
Our server recommended that we have three dishes per person -- although this proved to be a bit too much for us! The menu offers an extensive list of small dishes (like Jose Andres' other restaurants). The dishes run the gamut from various salsas/guacamoles (made tableside -- mild, medium, or spicy), a bevy of ceviches chopped up at the ceviche bar, various meats and fishes (on this occasion, quite a few pork belly dishes), a wide selection of tacos (served one per order), and so forth. A number of new dishes have just recently been added to the menu -- in fact, in between my two meals there (so in about a week), the server informed us that they added a bunch of their specials to be official dishes on the menu. One of those was the deliciously buttery black cod....mmmm. It's not a bad idea to save some room for dessert (see above for the only pictures I remembered to take at the first dinner!) -- these were quite delicious and the perfect way to end the meal.
Below are some of my favorite dishes from these two meals:
- Guacamole (of course) made to order with your level of spicyness!
- Ceviche de huachinango (red snapper ceviche with avocado, tomato, sweet onion, cilantro, and lime juice)
- Coctel de camaron y jaiba (shrimp & crab ceviche served with tomato sauce, avocado, and red onions)
- Cayo de hacha con pipian de chile pasilla (seared scallops with a pasilla chile and pumpkin seed sauce, orange segments, pumpkin seed oil and toasted pumpkin seeds)
- Albondigas enchipotladas con queso doble crema (meatballs in chipotle sauce with crumbled 'double cream' cheese and cilantro)
- Papas al mole (really, this is like crispy french fries with mole on top, but so good!)
- Queso fundido con tequila (with chorizo...mmmm)
- Carnitas tacos con salsa de tomatillo (confit of baby pig with green tomatillo sauce, pork rinds, onions, and cilantro)
Will I be back? For sure. Now that Oyamel is back on my radar, I don't think I can resist going back, especially for a refreshing margherita and spicy fresh guac during the hot DC summer months.
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
401 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004