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Appetizers are substantial and excellent. A starter of spring risotto with English peas topped with two grilled shrimp was perfect. Veal tenderloin is superb: three small rounds of tender meat, each about an inch thick, are served warm with a cool salad of mixed mushrooms, shaved celery root and tiny roasted onions. A mound of tuna tartare, mixed with diced cucumbers and sprinkled with sesame seeds in a subtle rice wine dressing, is fresh and delicious.

An entree of grilled sirloin of Wagyu-style beef, tender and flavorful, arrives sliced on a creamy, delicate puree of sunchokes and braised Swiss chard with a rich reduction of red wine and shallots.

Desserts are offbeat and tasty. The well-chosen, somewhat dear, wine list contains some fine California vintages.

Corinna Lothar


401 Seventh St. NW



Oyamel in Penn Quarter, Jose Andres’ Cocina Mexicana, is proof that you can get good Mexican food in Washington.

Oyamel is no ordinary South-of-the-border joint. The fare is more varied than most and goes miles beyond burritos, tacos or huevos rancheros. Each dish, most of them in the small-plates concept, gets lots of attention in terms of preparation and presentation.

Guacamole, for example, is not a bowl of mashed avocado prepared hours earlier. It’s all prepared at the table, fresh as can be.

The gazpacho, too, delightfully goes beyond the predictable. It’s neither red nor finely blended nor tomato. Mr. Andres’ version uses chopped jicama root, mango, cucumbers, jalapenos and Mexican sour orange.

The made-to-order corn tortillas also should not be missed. We ordered several types of the $3-each tacos. A favorite was the braised oxtail with tomatoes and peppers, served with pineapple, onions and cilantro.

Among the fish offerings, we loved the red snapper ceviche. It’s super fresh and served with sliced avocado, tomato salsa, sweet onion, cilantro and lime juice.

At Oyamel, which recently moved from Crystal City, Mr. Andres offers what he does best: small-plate dishes from a large menu with high-quality ingredients, unexpected combinations and delightful artistic presentations.

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