Saturday, April 21, 2012


"Every year, millions of monarch butterflies leave their homes in the US and Canada and migrate south to spend their winter in the mountains of Michoacán. The butterflies seek refuge in the oyamel tree, considered a sacred fir native to central Mexico. The forest appears to be draped in gold thanks to the thousands of butterflies covering the trees. Adding to the otherworldly quality of the place is the “shhhhhh” sound from the butterflies flapping their wings to stay warm. The locals welcome back the returning butterflies, which, because they appear about the time of Day of the Dead, they believe bear the spirits of their departed."


This is how Jose Andres named this Mexican tapas-style restaurant, Oyamel, located in the Penn Quarter area of DC.  When you step inside you are surrounded by colorful Mexican art, a canopy of bright yellow and orange flowers, and large butterfly mobiles.   For a second you might imagine yourself sitting under one of those oyamel trees listening to the fluttering of butterfly wings. But then you remember you're hungry and need some tacos! The food is awesome and I love the tapas style because you get to experience so many more things from the menu AND its fun to share too! Here's what we tasted...

yummy chips and fresh salsa with a bottle of fancy sparkling water

Coctel de camaron y jaiba...shrimp and crab ceviche with tomato sauce, avocado, red onions, and tortilla chips. A little spicy kick and a nice crunch from the chips accompanied by the creamy avocado. Divine!

Lengua guisada...braised beef tongue tacos topped with radishes and a pasilla chile sauce with tomatoes, onion, and garlic. The beef tongue was so tender it literally melted in our mouths.

Nopal asado con salsa molcajete...grilled fresh cactus paddles topped with salsa molcajete which is made with tomatoes, tomatillos, green onions, cilantro, and green chiles. It had a very "green" almost grassy flavor that mixed well with the salsa.  The only drawback to this dish is the juice from the cactus leaves can make it a little slimy. After eating about half of it, the sliminess started to turn off this texture eater. But I'm glad I tried it because it was different and it did taste good!

Quesadilla de chicharrones...a quesadilla filled with fried pork belly (straight from the Shenandoah Valley no less!) served with chihuahua cheese and a sauce made from five chiles. Delish!

Chapulines Tacos...anyone have a guess as to what chapulines are??  Grasshoppers!! Yes we ate grasshopper tacos! And they were actually very good! Apparently it is a legendary Oaxacan specialty. Our waiter told us they don't always have this on the regular menu but they will serve it for those customers who know about them to ask for them.  He also said the South American customers order them like crazy!

When we first asked about them, we asked for him to bring us each one taco. He looks at us, a little unsure, and says, "are you sure you don't want me to bring just one for you to try?" Superking and I looked at each other and thought, dude, you don't know these white folks very well, we've eaten testicles.  So we tell him, "bring us each one, lets do this!" He smiles and says, "I like your spirit!" 

can you see the whole grasshopper body trying to escape the taco?

The grasshoppers themselves are naturally very salty and they are marinated in lime juice and tequila, served in some kind of spicy chile sauce with shallots and a layer of creamy guacamole.  There are whole grasshoppers and pieces of grasshoppers...there is no question what you're eating when you see them.  Yes, there was a slight crunchiness but overall they were very tasty.  A very cool food adventure!

cool candle sculpture made of candle wax

The highlight of the meal though, came at the end...churros de San Angel con chocolate caliente...O.M.G. These were a-MA-zing!!  Whats not to like about fried pastry, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, thats served hot and covered in cinnamon and sugar?!?!?  Then to top it all off its served with a dish of hot melted was thick but frothy like a hot milkshake, if thats even possible.  And then you get to dip the churros in the chocolate....absolute heaven. 

best thing ever

I could just drink that right now...

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