While I try not to play favorites, one of the best things about the DC restaurant scene is the prevalence of Jose Andres options. Oyamel is always a big hit with me, I love it when a place turns your notions on their head. Many have such limited views of Mexican food because the typical Tex-Mex is what they know or even worse Taco Bell. Street food is a much better representation and Oyamel brings top notch tastes and wonderfully creative approaches to their antojitos.
With their Restaurant Week menu (extended to February 1st!) you can try two antojitos, a taco and dessert giving you an excellent taste of all that Oyamel has to offer. The tamal sits on the corn husk in all its glory and I feel such envy for those who know how to make these magical creations. It’s a corn tamal filled with braised pork in an ancho chile sauce and then garnished with Oyamel’s salsa Yucateca, Mexican crema and cilantro. I love spicy food and tamales are a perfect balance. The heat and creamy corn masa texture provide such a comforting feeling that its easy to forget you’re in DC in the middle of January.
I love that they also give the tacos the attention they deserve. The corn tortillas are hand made, in house, light and soft and wonderful at absorbing the taco sauce. Every sauce is perfectly paired with the protein and while the menu is designed for trying a bit of everything, I’d go and just eat my way through the taco menu. Fish tacos are the most delicate, where citrus and seasoning compliment the natural flavors of the fish. In the Taco Pescado Baja California, the seared cobia gets a kick from Oyamel’s house made mayo and extra heat from pickled ancho chiles and onions. If you go for the tacos and not restaurant week, I’d also be sure to try the Tinga Poblana con Puerco taco, stewed shredded pork with chorizo, chipotle, lettuce and avocado; Taco de Suadero, a braised, roasted and grilled brisket in with salsa verde, onions and cilantro; and my absolute favorite Pancita de Puerco al Pastor a taco of seared house-cured pork belly in a sauce of tomatoes and guajillo chiles, served with pineapple, onions and cilantro.
Truly the best thing about Restaurant Week is that the courses include dessert, something that I typically forgo for time or that nothing piques my interest. Similar to Chef Andres’ other restaurants, dessert is worth its own course, never an afterthought. I am a bit of a traditionalist with desserts and I couldn’t resist the pineapple in the Pastel de Tres Leches con Piña. Pastel de Tres Leches is a traditional cake soaked in Coruba rum and three kinds of milk, with a rum and milk foam, fresh pineapple gelatin and a pineapple salsa, served with a scoop of caramel ice cream. The three milks, usually evaporated, condensed and heavy cream, actually don’t make for a soggy cake, though most of the time I let the ice cream and foam do that for me. It’s remarkably not overly sweet and the perfect closure to a delightful meal!