Saturdays are made for sleeping in, exploring the neighborhood and brunching with your best Bitches. With that said, I met up with Amanda, to check out the brunch offerings at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana located in the heart of the Penn Quarter.
We were seated promptly in a colorful booth in the back corner of the central dining room. I love the vibrant colors and floating butterflies throughout the restaurant, I felt like I was in a whimsical garden. Our server, Angel greeted us right away and he instantaneously discovered that we were going to be a handful. Amanda and I chatted about her upcoming nuptials which led us to feeling rather adventurous, so we put forth full trust in our server on his recommendations. We naturally went in for the tequila and caffeine of course. I ordered the Blood Orange Chili Pequin and Amanda went with the Oyamel Margarita. Anytime I see Blood Orange on a menu, I gravitate towards it. Angel suggested the mexican coffee and let us know it had a hint of sweetness to it before we ordered. The coffee came in small mugs and ended up being way too sweet, but I could appreciate the hint of clove. I had to dilute mine with milk, but Amanda wasn’t into it. Both the Oyamel Margarita and the Blood Orange Chili Pequin were surprisingly strong yet sweet. The fresh lime juice and blood orange were refreshing and the chile provided for a subtle kick. Amanda loved her Oyamel Margarita which we hear is José Andrés’ personal favorite.
Anytime there’s handmade guacamole on a menu, you have to order it. I’m pretty sure it’s a general rule of thumb. It was made with love right before our eyes with green tomatillo, serrano chile, crumbled queso fresco and cilantro. I asked Angel to make it spicy and boy did he! By far the best guacamole I’ve ever had – and I’ve had a lot of guac in my 28 years!
The double sided brunch menu is rather intense and overwhelming, but provides for a variety of options even for the pickiest eater. I let Angel know I was a vegetarian and he whipped out a red crayon and circled all the options he thought I might like. Amanda and I had quite the feast and ordered a number of small plates.
I dove into the Huevos rancheros which was beautifully presented and tasted even better. The fried egg was on top of the stuffed tortillas, which included Rebosero beans with sliced avocado, seared queso fresco and red salsa. Whenever there is a prominent flavor and spice, my mouth can rest happy. Amanda went for the Camerones al mojo de negro, shrimp sautéed with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, lime, and sweet aged black garlic which provided for great spice and texture. I could tell she wanted more since she couldn’t help but mop up the sauce it arrived in.
Next up I had the Taco de hongos con crema which included sautéed wild mushrooms with shallots and Mexican cream, topped with salsa serrano and pickled red onions. I have mixed feelings when it comes to fancy tacos, but this one was delicious and quickly devoured in two bites.
Amanda tried the Frijoles refritos con queso which looked rather unappetizing. She noted it was a bit bland and most likely wouldn’t order it again. The refried beans stuffed with melted Chihuahua cheese and fresh tortillas just didn’t do it for her. I also nibbled on the Col de bruselas estilo San Quintín which is really just crispy brussels sprouts with an árbol chile sauce, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and lime. The serving was more Brussels sprouts than I could finish, but I was satisfied. I had to take a sip of water after each one to recover from the spice level. Since this Brunch was on the house, we tried a range of items on the menu than we typically might not order.
Next up, Amanda tasted the tamal verde with chicken, chile and cilantro. She noted had a great kick, but also had a rich and creamy filling. She now knows why this is a staple of Mexican cuisine. Angel emphasized that the Frijoles Rebosero is by far his favorite in terms of veggie options so I had to try it and certainly did not regret it. He hadn’t steered me wrong yet and he did warn me the chili peppers would sting a bit. The sizzling Heirloom Rebosero beans, included fresno chiles and seasonal vegetables in a mulato chile dressing and was served in a very generous portion. This was perfect for a chilly fall morning.
Lastly, Amanda had the quesadilla de chicharrones, which is one of her favorite quesadillas, a savory dish with a crunch from the chicharones. The quesadillas were filled with fried crispy pork belly with chihuahua cheese and included a chili sauce.
The Bitches say A: We appreciate how Oyamel diversifies its menu and offers authentic flavors from regions across Mexico. Our server Angel was an absolute delight. While the drinks may be a little too sweet, we can certainly say there’s spice in almost every bite.
401 7 St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Oyamel serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 11:30a.m.-3:00p.m.