The Ten: Top Tapas Spots

Photo courtesy of Jaleo, Greg Powers & Audrey Crewe

Photo courtesy of Jaleo, Greg Powers & Audrey Crewe

So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.

Sharing is caring. When we’re feeling magnanimous and hungry, we gather a group of friends for tapas (and a few rounds of cocktails, of course). Here are ten places showcasing small plates with big flavors.

José Andrés’ standard setter offers something for everyone – meatheads, veg fanatics, sweet freaks, even fans of El Bulli’s vino list (part of the famed Spanish restaurant’s wine cellar now resides at the Penn Quarter location). Gin and tonic fans take note: there are half a dozen bespoke G&Ts, including the London Dry with a dash of white pepper, rindy grapefruit juice and fresh mint.

This New York City import favors the classics – from croquettes and paella to salt cod fritters and garlic shrimp. Our current fave are the cojonudo, which dress up crispy ovals of bread with chorizo and fried quail eggs.

After we spend some time luxuriating in a platter full of cheese and charcuterie (definitely do a tasting of the Iberico trio), we turn our attention to the montaditos (open faced sandwiches). We can’t get enough of the one decadently topped with foie gras scrambled eggs and truffled butter.

Turkish tapas done right. We always begin with a selection of spreads, including the creamy haydari yogurt dip and the muhammara rich with roasted red peppers, garlic and poppy lemon.

Tapas Truck
Now you can get your tapas to go. Just because your meal arrives in a Styrofoam takeout container though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share.

Gringos & Mariachis
Every day is Taco Tuesday at this new spot in Bethesda. Pineapple pepped al pastor and grilled fish with sriracha spiked cream are tops in our book.

Eats meets West at this modern thinking mashup. We’re partial to the peanutty, minty scallop ceviche and the duck tacos dressed up with orange coriander sauce.

La Malinche
We have a hard time making up our minds when we dine here, so we often throw our doctor’s orders to the wind and order most of the menu. We’re especially fond of the house-made potato chips and their smoky chipotle dipping sauce, the cocoa glazed steak and the blackened scallops.

Don Churro Café
South American and Spanish small plates dominate the menu. Hone in on the trio of arepas, beef and potato empanadas and the fish ceviche mixed with sweet potatoes and onions.

There’s a sweeping variety of hot and cold tapas. Our picks? The garlicky octopus and the pork loin dressed with brandied pineapple sauce.


Is your favorite missing? Disagree with one (or more) of my choices? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @nevinmartell.

  • BB

    Gringos & Mariachis is located in Bethesda, not Silver Spring