In January of 2010 I was lucky enough to spend five days in Mexico City visiting a friend who had recently moved there. She lives in the lovely neighborhood of Condesa and some of my favorite things about the vibrant city included the street food, the tortillarias, and the bold flavors that were worked into every dish.
One of the beautiful and colorful photos I took at a market in Mexico City
Oyamel’s goal is to replicate the urban vibe of Mexico City with its tasty small plates and authentic cuisine, and I think it does so incredibly well. As one of the restaurants within Chef Jose Andres’ Think Food Group, it lives up to the reputation of providing great food and a great atmosphere as diners are accustomed to at some of the sister restaurants such as Zaytinya or Cafe Atlantico. For our work holiday lunch we decided to venture to Oyamel because we knew it would be a fun place for margaritas, and would allow us to try multiple different dishes and flavors throughout our meal. Overall it was a fun place to gather, and the food and drinks definitely hit the spot.
Oyamel is located on 7th and D Streets NW. Photo courtsey of Oyamel.com
We enjoyed pitchers of classic margaritas and I also tried the pomegranate margarita which is topped with salt air. We also got guacamole made table-side to munch on as we waited for our food. In addition, Oyamel provides a wonderfully spicy salsa with chips that blends well with the guacamole and creates a perfect snacking situation. I always have to remember to pace myself because it’s easy to fill up on the chips and dip.
Chips and guacamole made table-side at Oyamel. Photo courtesy of Oyamel.com
Some of the dishes that really stood out include the camarones al mojo de ajo negro which is shrimp sauteed with shallots, arbol chile, poblano chile, lime and sweet aged black garlic. There’s a sweetness in the sauce that pairs so nicely with the shrimp and makes it hard to resist. I also found the crispy brussel sprouts to be addicting (I ordered another one in the middle of the meal). They are sauteed in an arbol chile sauce with pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and lime and they were such a nice complement to the meatier and heavier dishes. Finally, I think Oyamel’s tacos are wonderful and I especially enjoyed the barbecue pork which is shredded with pickled red onion and juiced up in a Mexican sour orange sauce. The tacos are one to two bites each and are served by the individual so you can try many different kinds (including the grasshopper which I decided to pass on).
Some of the many taco options at Oyamel. Photo courtesy of Oyamel.com
Oyamel has a fun atmosphere and it is colorful, lively, and energetic just like Mexico City. It made me miss my friend Katie who lives in the D.F. and the time we spent enjoying the city together. It might be time to think about taking a trip back there, but in the meantime, it’s nice to have Oyamel in town which is a close second to the real deal.
401 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004