DC Restaurant Week returns — with special dishes at José Andrés restaurants

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC Restaurant Week (Part 1)

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s D.C. Restaurant Week is in full swing through Sunday.

That means the José Andrés Group is breaking out plenty of deals and dishes for your enjoyment.

“This is a time of year where the city tends to be a little slower and people are going on vacation, so it’s a great way to drum up some business and some excitement in the restaurants in our communities,” Senior Procurement Manager Robbie Meltzer told WTOP. “We’re focused and primed … to welcome people that are both fan favorites of our concepts and also people who have never come into our stores before.”

He says it’s the ultimate taste test because the very nature of his restaurants provides even more items per sitting.

“Most places you go to, you’re getting an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, whereas obviously our restaurants are tapas and small-plate centric, so you generally get a four-course or five-course meal,” Meltzer said. “You get a couple extra courses, a couple extra opportunities to taste some fan favorites in our restaurants or maybe they are hidden gems that we’ve tucked away for a while.”

The group’s flagship restaurant, Jaleo D.C., is located near Capital One Arena in Penn Quarter at the corner of 7th and E Streets NW. Meltzer previously served as the head chef of Jaleo for the past five years.

“Traditional Spanish tapas, it’s Jose’s first, it’s our flagship, and we actually just celebrated our 30th anniversary,” Meltzer said. “You’ll find items like our croquetas de pollo, probably the greatest chicken-pot-pie filling breaded and deep fried, highly addictive and phenomenal. To get those on Restaurant Week is a steal. You also have our Gambas a la Zahara, one of our signature dishes, it’s garlic shrimp, one of the most famous tapas in Spain.”

On the same block, just further south on 7th Street in Northwest D.C., you’ll find the acclaimed China Chilcano.

“Our Chinese-Peruvian concept, marrying two different cuisines into one kitchen,” Meltzer said. “Highlights on that menu are their dumplings, their Kam Lu Wantáns, which are crispy shrimp and pork dumplings. Another secret but fantastic dumplings is the traditional Siu Mai Pollo. Their dancing yucca fries are phenomenal. … One of my favorite items is the Tam Tam Noodles, hand-cut wheat noodles with a nice spicy pork sauce with peanuts.”

Right across the street at the corner of 7th and D Streets, Northwest, is Oyamel Cocina Mexicana.

“It’s our authentic Mexican cuisine. Margaritas are a great accompaniment,” Meltzer said. “They have an awesome watermelon salad that’s super fresh, refreshing, delicious and seasonal, but as you sneak down the menu, their Tamal Verde is a signature dish. They’re also highlighting a couple of their tacos: the Cochinita Pibil is one of my favorites. … It’s braised pork, sour orange and a little bit of pickled red onions. It’s a great taco.”

A few blocks away near the National Portrait Gallery and MLK Library is Zaytinya on 9th Street, Northwest.

“Zaytinya is our Mediterranean, Greek, Lebanese concept,” Meltzer said. “One of the best ways to start your meal is of course with the dips: the hummus, the baba ganoush, classic dishes but ones not to be missed. Then honestly, a secret item, which isn’t so secret once you’ve tried it, is the crispy Brussels sprouts. These are melt-in-your-mouth fried Brussels sprouts with a garlic Greek yogurt, it’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal pairing.”

Outside of The District, the group runs the new Spanish Diner on Woodmont Ave. in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Very similar to things you’d find at Jaleo, but with a different spin, more comfort food,” Meltzer said. “You can’t miss their gazpacho, especially in the summer when you’ve got tomatoes that are perfectly in season. … Patatas bravas is another favorite, crispy potatoes, spicy bravas sauce, garlic aioli, it’s the perfect bite in your mouth. … Last but not least, you can’t leave without enjoying one of their signature flans. It’s Jose’s grandmother’s recipe.”

These are just six of the 150 restaurants in the D.C. area participating in Restaurant Week.

“Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for people who have been reserved or afraid to try a restaurant or see what all the buzz is about,” Meltzer said. “A lot of restaurants are offering to-go packages as well if those people still aren’t necessarily able to make it into the restaurants, so if you still want to enjoy Restaurant Week but in the comfort of your own home, restaurants are offering dinner packages for two and four [people].”

Find more information on D.C. Restaurant Week here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC Restaurant Week (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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