After a week spent bopping around New York City for work and pleasure, my train pulled into Union Station on Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. As eager as I was to get home to see my husband and my dog, I was equally as excited to brunch at Joselito, a charming family-owned Spanish restaurant in Capitol Hill. The restaurant is owned by a man named Javier, and the name is homage to his late father.
I walked into my apartment, threw down my bags, smothered my pup, and caught up with my husband, before he decided to accompany me on the 20 minute walk from our apartment to Capitol Hill on this beautiful Sunday.
Gavin and I had previously dined at Joselito for dinner on a random Tuesday night and it was lovely. The patio is lined with tropical plants providing the perfect respite for our little pup to be leashed to the pretty marble tables. Today was a girls’ brunch though, so we went our separate ways at Eastern Market.
It was windy, so Christina, Kendra, and I entered the chic black-and-white space and chose to sit inside near the window. We were greeted by the husband and wife team behind Joselito (who invited us in to dine on the house) and their two adorable, perfectly behaved children. They explained to us that since brunch is not customary in Spain, Joselito offers the option to order from the brunch menu, or the full dinner menu on weekends. Christiana, Javier’s wife, put it so eloquently “I mean in Spain, if you wake up and want a drink any day of the week, you just make yourself a little cocktail.” Love her.
Immediately, we appreciated that the menu portions range from tapas (small) to media ración (entree) to ración (family style). Brilliant! In my opinion, it’s one of the only restaurants in D.C. where it’s appropriate to bring both your family and a brunch date. Between the sleek and sexy European vibes, the welcoming service, the bottomless, DIY Bloody Mary and mimosa bar, and the family-style portions, Joselito checks off all of our brunch needs.
Javier and Christiana are serving the best sangria in the city. I know, it’s a bold claim. The inventive presentation—an ice cube of mixed fruit served with a vial of Cava, brandy, orange juice, grape juice, and triple sec—combined with the delicious concoction justifies said claim. I made note of the mixed fruit ice cube for my upcoming summer brunch party. We also took advantage of the charming mimosa and Bloody Mary bar presented on the window ledge at the front of the restaurant. It was stocked with all of the proper accouterments to fix your elixir of choice.
We’ve had a lot of deep fried adventures in food through our days of brunch. And really, you can’t go wrong. But leave it to the Europeans to make deep fried dishes classy. The deep-fried rosemary bread was next level delicious. Paired with spicy tomato marmalade and one-year-aged Manchego cheese, this dish transported us to a patio in Spain. If this was the only dish I could eat at Joselito, I would have been satisfied.
Next, we ordered the tuna carpaccio tapas from the dinner menu—and its presentation was beautiful. The tuna was incredibly fresh; and the pistachio foam and avocado mousse added a unique, salty yet nutty flavor to the dish. We loved how the sea salt was artfully positioned on the side, so you could add as much or as little to each bite as you pleased. This was another dish we could have eaten all afternoon.
Christiana described the smoked cod and olive oil gazpacho as her go-to hangover cure. Two Advils and a Gatorade usually do the trick for me, but one bite of this lovely palate cleanser and I realized she was on to something. It was cold, refreshing, and creamy, not chunky like most of my past gazpacho experiences. The smoked cod fish provided the salty flavor you crave after a long night out; and the olive oil added another delicious layer to the consistency.
If our brunch was a song, the organic fried eggs with Iberico ham and fries would have been the crescendo. As Frank Sinatra played in the background, the Iberico ham was rolled out on a bar cart alongside our table. Our waiter ceremoniously carved each slice table side and topped our dish with freshly sliced meat. The fried egg was cooked perfectly underneath the ham, which was warmed by the egg.
It was highly recommended that we try the next three dishes. So, another round of drinks and off we went with Spain’s fisherman rice—similar to a paella.
This dish was extremely salty. It was a mix of various seafood including mussels, shrimp, and lobster in a dark red sauce. We appreciated the small portions, but admittedly we were starting to get very full.
Our last savory dish was the Iberian pork tenderloin sandwich. Our waiter surprised us and cut the sandwich in thirds, but it was still a hefty portion. The onions and bread paired with the tender meat perfectly. While the dish wasn’t greasy, you could taste the delicious olive oil with each bite. Next time, I’ll order this dish earlier in the meal when we return.
Though we were unable to even utter the word dessert, we were served the Andalusian style French toast. The dish comprised two pieces of thick bread, soaked in milk and egg, then fried, and topped with cinnamon. It was a decadent version of the classic, sweet brunch dish. We tapped out after a few bites.
Javier ended our delightful meal with a round of his homemade brandy, infused with Marcona almonds. And then we died and went to brunch heaven.
The Bitches say: A. A charming, authentic, and chic slice of Europe right in Capitol Hill. Washington needs more locally owned restaurants like Joselito. No matter what time of day you’re in the neighborhood, you can’t go wrong with the cocktails, brunch, or dinner.
660 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003