I’m of the cult of Jose Andres. Are you surprised? I didn’t think so. While I don’t think that Think Food Group (Andre’s umbrella company) is the end-all be-all of culinary magic, I’ve never had a bad meal at any restaurant with his name on it—regardless of the type of cuisine it’s inspired by.
Tapas at Jaleo? Delicious for a dinner date with your girlfriends. (Keep the wine a-coming, please). Mediterranean fusion at Zaytinya? This restaurant was phenomenal—and quite a big deal—when it opened, and it still is today. All-American gourmet grease at pop-up restaurant America Eats Tavern? Perfect for a lunch, brunch or dinner when you’d like cozy cuisine and hot toddys on those all-too-frequent cold District days.
I’ve visited Oyamel, Andres’ Mexican restaurant in Penn Quarter multiple times for dinner, but, never for brunch, so I was certainly pleased when they invited the Bitches in for our favorite meal of the week.
I was joined by Hilary, a Southern gal who certainly loves Mexican food. We’d barely snuck in a hug and sat down before our waitress whisked the mimosas de la casa to our table. For me, a pina colada mimosa, which was perfectly sweetened and had me wishing I was on a beach in Puerto Vallarta rather than in cold, dreary Washington. Hilary sipped on the special cocktail for the day—the spicy blood orange mimosa made with chili pequin, a unique treat that’s worth making a visit to Oyamel to sample.
Hilary insisted upon ordering guac, and I certainly didn’t argue. Every time I’ve visited Oyamel, the house-made guacamole is a must—it’s made tableside by your waiter with fresh avocados, green tomatillos, Serrano chilies, and that delicious white queso fresco all Mexican food aficionados love oh-so-much.
Everything at Oyamel, like many of Andres’ restaurants, is served in small plates or tapas style—homage to his Spanish heritage no doubt—and perfect for sharing.
The specials for the day are circled on its enormous paper menu, and we opted to try two of them. First, the fruit salad, which had pineapple, apples, melon, bananas and mangos, and was dressed in a lime chili concoction.
The lime was a nice touch—really amplified the flavors of the fruit and took a typical fruit salad from boring to unique. The chili sprinkled on pineapple was a unique flavor combination that paired especially well together.
The other special of the day was shrimp marinated in a spicy, savory sweet aged black garlic sauce with spicy poblano and arbol chilies and sautéed onions, shallots and peppers. Now, as a pescetarian surrounded by carnivores, I’m often relegated to shrimp at the dinner table—so I’ve eaten a lot of the little buggers. This was by far the best shrimp dish I’ve eaten to date—and Hilary and I were fork-fighting for the last bite.
For our breakfast “entrees,” we each chose egg dishes. For Hilary, the Huevo Enfrijolada Oaxacaqueño, a poached egg served with a tortilla, Oaxacan-style black bean puree, house-made chorizo and queso fresco cheese. She says, “My favorite part of the dish was the black bean puree, which was remarkably fresh, along with the perfect poached egg. The homemade chorizo was also outstanding, yet subtle. All in all, I highly recommend the Huevo Enfrijolada Oaxacaqueño!”
I was pleased that the huevos rancheros came without carne or frijoles—a rarity for most Mexican establishments and I happen to enjoy neither beans nor beef. Both the poached eggs on each dish were poached, then fried, arriving in a heavenly fluffy coating cut open to reveal runny egg yolk. Seriously spectacular.
For the huevos rancheros, the egg was served atop avocado slices, poblano chiles and a tomato and Serrano chili ranchero sauce. Delicioso.
Now, I’ve traveled across Mexico, visiting the country about a dozen times. When we visit my grandparents in San Diego, we always cross the border to spend the day in Tijuana. People often ask me why. My response? To drink cheap coronas and eat churros from the little street vendors.
Oyamel’s churros, fried and laden with cinnamon sugar, come served in paper bag just like the ones in Tijuana—and taste just as authentic. Better yet, the crispy crunchy delicious pastries are served with a hot chocolate dipping sauce—in case you needed to be any more gluttonous.
The Bitches say: A+. If you’re craving Mexican for brunch, head to Oyamel for authentic comida Mexicana with a twist. From the traditional dinner cuisine to the egg dishes like huevos rancheros we were hooked. Start with the signature mimosas and end with the churros, then roll yourself home for a siesta.
401 7th Street N.W.