One of the first restaurants in DC chef Josè Andres’ empire, Oyamel has a festive, comfortable vibe, just right for a fancy downtown lunch or cocktails before a hockey game up the street. If you’re a Tequila fan (guilty) the offerings rate a wine list length menu, and flights in every category (Blanco! Mescal! Vintage!) with lengthy descriptions of each, making them educational as well.
The menu is perfect for tasting a range of offerings and sharing at the table — we always start with the family-style guacamole, made fresh to order and served with thin, crispy, just out of the fryer chips. That might be enough, with a hearty Margarita (my fave, and Josè’s is the Oyamel, with Milagro Blanco and ‘salt air’ a frothy topping of salt foam) but I can never stop there. Pick a refreshing ceviche, seafood marinated in citrus, and a cheesy enchilada or meaty taco to round out the meal. The dishes are based on regional specialties, so you’ll find goat, chicken, beef tongue, even the regional Oaxacan specialty, a taco of sauteed grasshoppers which, honestly, is quite tasty, served with Tequila, lime and guacamole.
Another favorite: papes al mole, little potatoes in a rich sauce of chile and chocolate, topped with creamy fresh queso.