Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oyamel, DC #2

Oyamel is a tapas restaurant in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of DC that serves outstanding Mexican cuisine. As much as I love the food and ambiance at Oyamel, I hadn't been back in over a year so now seemed like as good a time as any.

I headed over with a colleague of mine for a business lunch. The decor hadn't changed at all -- still bright and colorful with a ceiling partially made of orange flowers. I've always thought that was pretty cool.

We had reservations so we were seated immediately. I started with their juice of the day - guava, which I found to be somewhat plain, but refreshing. We were also served their signature chips and salsa, which for whatever reason is oh so good. The thin, crispy chips they serve with smoky salsa are so incredibly addictive.

Oyamel now has a lunch specials menu from which you can order 1 item from any 3 categories or 2 antojitos and 1 taco for $20.  I decided to go with the special so I inquired as to which items were vegan. That was when the skies opened up and a vegan fairy came down with a special Oyamel menu on which all items were labeled vegan, gluten-free, etc. Okay, maybe it was my waiter that gave it to me, but it still felt like a fairytale. I only wish all restaurants would take the time to do this.

The first dish I was served was the Nopalitos, a baby cactus with tomatoes in a light lime dressing. It was a pretty large dish for being one of three, but I have no complaints about the dish itself. Loved it. And how often do you get to eat cactus? Always a treat.

Next, I was served the mushroom tacos or Taco de hongos con crema. I was super disappointed to see that they changed this dish so that it is not vegan anymore, but super excited to find the chef was willing to make it vegan for me. Chunky, sauteed wild mushrooms were rolled in a soft taco shell with a tomatillo salsa and sliced pickled beets. I loved the unusual combo, but they could go a little easier on the oil.

Lastly,  I had the Chayotes guisados con salsa jitomate, which was this great dish of sauteed Mexican squash, cauliflower, and swiss chard along with tequila. It was served in a tomato and chile arbol salsa. This was an unusual squash that I'd never had before -- a bit hard even when sauteed, but I really liked it in the tomato-based sauce.

So as you can see, I had a great experience food-wise. The service was so-so, but I have to give the guy a break because he shared with me that it was his first shift. I wouldn't ding him for not knowing all the answers, but it did take him forever to bring us the check. That aside, we had an good experience overall. I don't plan to wait another year before returning to this place. I now realize how much I missed this delicious Mexican cuisine.

Previous review
December 6, 2011

401 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-1005

Oyamel on Urbanspoon


  1. I just returned from Oyamel and wanted to check in to see if you liked it as much as I did. A friend and I had a delicious vegan dinner this evening there. When I told our server we would be eating vegan, he brought a special menu indicating which dishes were vegan or could be made so. We started with the guac and incredible margaritas. The margaritas use fresh lime juice . . . not a mix . . . perfect! The food was fresh and tasty, definitely a lighter take on Mexican. My favorite was the heirloom bean dish with it's smokey pepper sauce.

  2. It's one of my local favorites! Thanks for letting me know about the new dish!