Family Style: Kids Revel in Jaleo’s Tapas

Family Style chronicles an urban mom’s search for DC area restaurants that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Dining out with kids isn’t a drawn out affair. Oftentimes, we’re in and out in about an hour, depending on how good the service is.

That’s why I like tapas places. Not only do the small plates come out quickly (great for a hungry, fidgety toddler), but they’re also the perfect size for kids and give the family the opportunity to share and sample a variety of dishes.

Apparently you can’t say tapas in the District without thinking of Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo in Penn Quarter headed by famed chef José Andrés. Its arroz a banda con gambas (paella with shrimp and calamari) was featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

True to its name’s meaning of “revelry,” Jaleo has a festive, casual atmosphere. Its décor and ambiance embody the spirit of Spain, from the artwork to its two unique foosball tables.

My 19-month-old Alex dug into the pan de cristal con tomate (fresh tomato on toasted bread) and croquetas de pollo, Spanish-style chicken fritters that are a welcome departure from the played-out chicken strips on a kid’s menu. Plus, they were served in a shoe-shaped dish!

We also snacked on the Jamón Ibérico Fermín (cured ham from black-footed Ibérico pigs of Spain) and empanadillas de brandada de bacalao (empanadas filled with pureed cod, olive oil and milk).

Some parents may find Jaleo too trendy for a family dinner. The night we went, the place was packed with groups of 30- to 40-somethings in suits and dresses.

But as an urban mom, I love exposing my child to different flavors and styles of cooking. We dined al fresco for about an hour, and while we could have stayed longer, it was just enough time for a memorable family dinner.

480 7th Street NW
(202) 628-7949

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