D.C. has an exciting number of vibrant Spanish restaurants, and perhaps that isn’t suprising — arguably America’s most famous authority on the cuisine, Jose Andres, is based here. Whether looking for classic tambas like gambas al ajillo, a daring blend of Japanese and Spanish cuisine, or a neighborhood destination with standout Spanish seafood, or exciting new additions to the Spanish landscape, it’s all available around Washington.Read More
D.C.’s Destination Spanish Restaurants
From tapas to paella, these places reign supreme for Spanish cuisine
Joselito Casa de Comidas
This family-owned establishment run by Javier Candon and Christiana Campos (also of SER) brings Madrid to Capitol Hill. Executive chef David Sierra happens to hail from Spain’s capital and offers both a la carte and tasting menus. The restaurant is also popular for brunch.
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Jaleo is Jose Andrés’s standout spot for fun and playful takes on traditional Spanish fare. No visit is complete without an order of jamón sliders, made from acorn-fed, black-footed Ibérico pigs. Or the bacon-wrapped dates. Or the croquetas. Or the spinach. Or...
Cranes is the only restaurant in D.C. currently exploring the intersection between Spanish and Japanese cuisine, courtesy of chef Pepe Moncayo. That means combinations like patatas bravas with yuzu kosho ketchup, and an unagi paella accented with white ponzu, smoked eel, snap peas, and jalapeno aioli.
Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi
Looking out at the water from Del Mar, it’s easy to image a seaside city like Barcelona. Maria and Fabio Trabocchi were some of the first restaurateurs to open at The Wharf, and now Del Mar has turned into a critically acclaimed spot for Spanish fine dining. Can’t-miss dishes include the seafood paella and churros served in a rich chocolaty sauce.
Taberna del Alabardero
Taberna del Alabardero feels more like a Spanish castle than a downtown dining room. The walls are ornately decorated in rich red wallpaper and there are old-school portraits hanging everywhere. Whether it’s lunch, brunch, or dinner, this is one of Washington’s oldest institutions for classic Spanish cuisine.
Boqueria Spanish Tapas (Multiple Locations)
Sitting at the bar at Boqueria feels somewhat like a busy counter or bar experience in Seville or Madrid. Off in the corner is a leg of Jamón ibérico, and it’s one of the few places where to find Kas soda (a Spanish favorite). For a fun all-you-can-eat experience, visit the restaurant for brunch on Saturday or Sunday, when the menu becomes bottomless.
This restaurant from minibar alumn Rubén García is one of the most exciting recent openings in D.C., period. You can feel the personal connection Garcia has to the menu through many thoughtful touches, and the restaurant is as enjoyable a la carte as it is to experience the various prix fixe options, including the $38 lunch option and the $110 tasting menu. Be sure to include an order of ibérico ham, make-your-own tomato bread, creamy croquetas, and canelones no matter which approach to the menu you take.
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This waterfront Old Town bar is a fun, convivial spot for tapas and Spanish wine.
El Mercat Bar de Tapas
El Mercat filled somewhat of a Spanish cuisine void in Rockville when it opened in early 2022. The breakout project from Boqueria alumn George Rodrigues offers a lengthy list of two dozen tapas, many of which are discounted during daily happy hour (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.). The Brazilian-born paella pro sends out his personal favorites in 10- or 14-inch circular skillets. — Tierney Plumb
Barcelona Wine Bar Cathedral Heights
Yes, this is a chain restaurant, but Barcelona Wine Bar is still worth the visit given its lively patio and bustling happy hour. The Spanish charcuterie and cheese options take up half the menu, and its follow-up D.C. location, in Cathedral Heights, is less often noisy and crowded than its 14th Street companion.
Have brunch the Jose Andrés way at this Bethesda favorite, where eggs and potatoes get particular attention. There are several tapas and sandwiches to choose from here as well, and vegetables aren’t an afterthought, either.
Truly an Arlington, gem is a great option for tapas, Spanish raw bar dishes, and even colorful salads. It also offers its share of theatrical dishes, from dramatically chopped suckling pig to large-format paellas. The restaurant exudes hospitality and has ambitious drinks as well.