The bright red tones of Jaleo restaurant invites the passerby with a warm glow reminiscent of Spanish culture. Renown for the exquisite machinations of the chef, Jose Andres, Jaleo offers a variety of Spanish dishes with a modern twist in the traditional form of Tapas.

Jaleo in Bethesda Front Entrance
Jaleo in Bethesda Front Entrance

Tapas are best defined as small, tasty dishes meant to be shared in groups. They allow the customer to eat a wide variety of foods without getting unpleasantly full. To get the authentic experience, one usually has to travel a great distance to Spain, however, Jaleo allows you to enjoy Tapas of the best quality in Bethesda, Maryland.

Some of Jaleo's offerings. (James M. Thresher/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Some of Jaleo’s offerings. (James M. Thresher/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Jaleo Bethesda inside dining area (photo: Ken Wyner)
Jaleo Bethesda inside dining area (photo: Ken Wyner)

The restaurant even has two glass-covered foosball tables at Jaleo in Bethesda–feature characters designed by Andres. Guests can order food and eat and play at the same time.

Jaleo Bethesda Foosball Table (Photo by R. Lopez)
Jaleo Bethesda Foosball Table (Photo by R. Lopez)
Foosball dining table at Jaleo (Photograph by Andrew Propp)
Foosball dining table at Jaleo (Photograph by Andrew Propp)

For our meal, we started with Manchego cheese, jamon serrano, and jamon iberico. Manchego is a hard cheese with a slightly nutty flavor that is common all across Spain. The older a cheese is cured, the better the taste.

Manchego cheese, Jamon Serrano tapas at Jaleo
Manchego cheese, Jamon Serrano tapas at Jaleo

The jamon serrano and jamon iberico are cured, salty meats that commonly accompany manchego, but they are also eaten often in flautas, or small sandwiches, which we ordered as well. The Flautas at Jaleo contain the delicious cured ham from the legendary acorn-fed iberico pigs of Spain, olive oil, and chopped tomatoes.

Flautas Tapa bread brushed with tomato and extra virgin olive oil, topped with cured ham at Jaleo
Flautas Tapa bread brushed with tomato and extra virgin olive oil, topped with cured ham at Jaleo
Jaleo Bethesda Restaurant - (photo by: Capella Garcia)
Jaleo Bethesda Restaurant – (photo by: Capella Garcia)

Next, we ordered the ham croquettes (or croquetas) as they are called in Spanish. Give me a good old croqueta any day! Croquetas are made of a thick bechamel usually containing flecks of serrano ham (though chicken, fish, and meat are also commonly used), coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. They are a meal in themselves, that is, if you eat enough of them. Which I did of course, since I ordered two servings!

Ham Croquette Tapas - Jaleo Bethesda
Ham Croquette Tapas – Jaleo Bethesda

Like many Spanish dishes, the croqueta was born out of necessity, when Spain was suffering one of its many periods of hunger, resourceful cooks had to invent good food from basic raw materials.

Enjoying the croquette tapas at Jaleo Bethesda
Enjoying the croquette tapas at Jaleo Bethesda

While I was devouring all the croquettes, the others ordered Fried egg with Caviar “Huevo frito con caviar.” It’s a fried organic egg topped with white sturgeon caviar. Both my husband and daughter were besides themselves with this dish.

Fried Egg with Caviar (Huevo frito con caviar) at Jaleo Bethesda (Photo credit: Habier Lopez)
Fried Egg with Caviar (Huevo frito con caviar) at Jaleo Bethesda (Photo credit: Habier Lopez)

Jaleo is my favorite dining experience in Bethesda, Maryland, apart from the most excellent food, I love the ambience of the restaurant and service is impeccable.

Jaleo Bethesda Bar Area (Photo: Ken Wyner)
Jaleo Bethesda Bar Area (Photo: Ken Wyner)

Chef Jose Andres has a magical take on Tapas. His restaurant in LA, The Bazaar, has more of an avant garde conceptual Tapas line-up, while Jaleo has both traditional and contemporary dishes in a stylish, casual environment that promotes a convivial dining experience. It’s a great place to take friends, and its special enough for a romantic evening.

Which tapas would you pick?

JALEO 7271 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

6 Comments

  1. Suze - LuxuryColumnist

    I love the foosball figurines and you can’t go wrong with croquetas, yum!
    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  2. I thought the figurines were cute too! The table is very entertaining for a family with kids. Although, my husband wanted to play with it too.

  3. Pinay Flying High

    OMG!!! It’s in Bethesda, MD??? That’s awesome!
    I think that area is like the culinary capital of MD, there are just so many unique and interesting restaurants there. Love the foosball! :p

  4. Yes, it’s in downtown Bethesda. They do have a few really good restaurants in the area, but Jaleo is still my favorite. I love Tapas..

  5. The Guy Who Flies

    This looks like quite a place for a great eating experience and to have caviar too, nice. Great fussball characters too, I bet it is fun playing on that table although I often lose.

  6. I travel to DC quite often, and Bethesda is one of our favorite places to go to dine. They have many great restaurants in the area. It’s tough to keep our kids from burying their faces in their phones. Having a foosball table to keep them entertained while waiting for dinner to arrive is perfect.

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