Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oyamel's Little Dishes from the Streets

Oyamel: Fried Masa Cakes with Shredded Duck Confit

I was slow to embrace the tapas craze.  The stress of having to choose several small plates instead of just one entree outweighed the inherent benefit -- variety.  But I have recently discovered that tapas dining done right can be a real treat.  Jose Andre's Oyamel brings antojitos or the little dishes from the streets of Mexico to DC's ever-expanding fine dining scene in Penn Quarter.

This bustling, vibrant, and loud restaurant is yet another tough DC reservation to score.  But if you are patient, and can handle a wait at the cramped bar area (made much easier with a potent, Margarita in hand), you will be rewarded with the best Mexican food in the area.

We began with the queso fundido topped with chorizo, which is flambéed with tequila and served with hot hand-made tortillas.  After that, there were so many possibilities.  From a delicious take on black refried beans stuffed with cheese to a tamale verde with shredded chicken, each dish was delicate and decadent.

If you are looking for a culinary way to celebrate the season, get in before November 2nd, when the little plates spread is even bigger, with a "Day of the Dead" special menu.  B and I shared and slurped a creamy and rich butternut squash soup, which was spiced with habenero chiles, sweetened with cinnamon, crunchy with pumpkin seeds and fried pork skin (and quite pretty thanks to micro marigold blossoms).

Prices range from $6 - $13 and two to three plates per person will leave you satisfied and satiated; Andres' dishes may be little, but each delivers, big, bold flavors.

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

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