Flamenco and Tapas at La Tasca

La Tasca is a prime spot in Clarendon for tapas and sangria after a long work week. Its Arlington location is one of five in the DC Metro area.

After making the reservations on OpenTable , two friends and I were excited to indulge in the restaurant that presents itself as an authentic Spanish experience. The atmosphere did not disappoint. When we arrived, we were ushered up the large wrought iron staircase to the top of the two-level establishment that’s decorated in rich shades of gold, red, and green.

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The upstairs bar at La Tasca in Clarendon

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What to look for when navigating some of D.C.’s famous spots

What experiences can people expect when eating out at small plates restaurants? Knowing what to look for when reading the menu is a start. This is not your typical listing of appetizers, entrées and desserts. Let’s look at some of the famous ones, shall we?

Jaleo

If you’ve lived in the D.C. Metro area for a while, then you have most likely heard about José Andrés showcasing tapas in his restaurant Jaleo.

This restaurant has multiple branches, including one in Las Vegas. The original is in D.C.’s Penn Quarter, so I think that’s the most relevant menu to look at here.

Most categories are listed in Spanish without any English translations, but the translated parts make it possible to understand. For example, “Verduras” emphasizes vegetables. However, the section “Conos, latas y más” can be confusing, even when the reader is pretty sure the title translates into “Cones, canned foods and more.”

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Latin-Asian Fusion at Zengo

Zengo, meaning give and take in Japanese, is the perfect name for the restaurant located next to the metro station in Gallery Place/Chinatown.

Chef-owner Richard Sandoval owns five popular restaurants in D.C., including my favorite El Centro D.F., so my expectations for Zengo were pretty high. It did not disappoint.

Thai-chicken empanadas

Thai-chicken empanadas

While there are dinner entrée options, the bulk of the menu showcases small plate options that are meant for sharing. The culinary concept of Zengo merges Latin and Asian cuisine in some unexpected way, but still includes a few staples you’d likely associate with Latin or Asian food – whatever your preference. I like them both, so I was in for a treat.

The most interesting thing about the menu at Zengo is that it changes. Every few months the culinary team gets together and chooses two different countries, one Latin and one Asian, and mixes together their flavors and customary dishes for a totally unique small plate experience. During my visit, the test kitchen had produced a profile of Japan and Mexico. Some of the dishes included Thai-chicken empanadas and teriyaki pork belly gorditas sliders with Oaxaca cheese.

At first, I was unsure if sushi and tacos would make a good combination but decided to try it anyway.

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