What I love about D.C.’s growing dining scene is all the new restaurants featuring cuisines that have been absent in the city. For example, in the last year or two we have seen a Peruvian restaurant open, a Lao restaurant, and even a Swiss restaurant has opened its door on H Street. To join all of these new ventures is Arroz, a Spanish-Moroccan-Portuguese inspired dining venue. The menu is rife with dishes showcasing the bold flavors of these regions, and the food itself is beautifully presented with colors, dollops, smears, and drizzles. Get ready for a fun ride.
The menu opens with a section called “plates” which are bigger than tapas, so they’re perfect for sharing. I find most tapas to be one bite affairs, not exactly great if you want to share with three people, but at Arroz, these plates are decent sized, and everyone can get more than a mouthful. I highly recommend the burnt eggplant, easily one of the best dishes on the menu. Eggplant is whipped with black garlic to a silky smooth consistency, and is then smeared onto a plate that is already covered in a pool of olive oil. The eggplant is then topped with chopped cucumbers, colorful cherry tomatoes, bright bell peppers, pine nuts, herbs, and za’atar, a middle eastern herb blend. It comes with warm toasted hunks of pita bread for dipping. It’s wildly flavorful, and the variety of textures makes it all the more delectable.
The gem lettuce salad is also a favorite; individual leaves come topped with a luscious avocado mouse, corn and shredded manchego cheese. A sprinkling of chopped marcona almonds, Spain’s famous buttery fried almonds, add crunch and richness. The summer vegetable salad is similarly awesome: I mean, it comes with a garlic streusel, what could be better than that. The patatas bravas are the coolest I have ever seen, with layered sheets of potato, served in small squares, crowned with a dollop of velvety aioli. I literally cannot get enough of these. Other highlights include charred carrots served on a bed of creamy labne and a cheerful tomato and melon salad, drizzled with a spicy harissa dressing and served with flatbread.
In the larger plates section, try the bomba rice. A huge skillet is filled to the brim with Spanish rice, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, corn, onions, parsley, and a golden egg. It is super hearty and bursting with the flavors of garlic and pimento peppers and lemon.
Desserts are as creative as the savory dishes. Tahini and caramel macaroons, mint tea ice cream, chocolate custard with cherry ice cream. This is a foodie trip you’re gonna want to take as soon as possible. And you won’t even need to use up any vacation days.