All words: Brandon Wetherbee
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
Oyamel doesn’t need to have a late night menu, but we’re not going to complain that the Jose Andrés ThinkFoodGroup restaurant is making Penn Quarter even better.
The 4:00-to-6:00pm Oyamel happy hour is one of the best in the city. The only downside is the crowds. It gets crowded. Early. Sometimes you just want a taco and an Oyamel Margarita (the one with the “salt air”) before you head home. That isn’t really possible if you show up at 5:45pm. Now, it’s possible to just have a taco and Oyamel Margarita before you head home after 10:00pm on weekdays and 11:00pm on weekends.
The food at Oyamel is fantastic and if you’ve lived in D.C. for more than six months or visited downtown D.C. for more than six hours you should have already tried it. If for some sad reason you haven’t, remedy that. Order the tacos. All of the tacos are great. I tend to order the Yucatan-style pit barbecued Shenandoah Valley pork. The braised and sliced grilled local brisket is another fantastic option. The staff favorite will soon be a sandwich and that may be perfect for the individual that’s embracing the late night aspect of the late night menu.
If you’re at the Mexican restaurant with someone that doesn’t tend to eat at Mexican restaurants (Who do you know? Why do you know this person? Please, change this person’s life.) you’re going to end up ordering the guacamole. The guac is made at the table. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just, well, it’s just OK. The guac is great, no complaints with the food, but the gimmick can go away. But order it if you’re with a new Mexican diner. They’ll be impressed for some reason.
Once again, nothing wrong with ordering guac, but this isn’t Chipotle; order something you can’t get at Chipotle. Order the ceviche or the pescadillo sinaloa. It’s much less likely that you’re going to be eating marinated bass or smoked fish cooked in a traditional broth during your too short lunch hour. Save the green stuff for fast food.
An excellent reason to visit Oyamel on a consistent basis are the rotating seasonal drinks. Currently on the menu is the Passion Fruit Fizz, a dangerous lemon drink that tastes like lemon and not like vodka and is therefore dangerous. The Pichon Verde features tequlia and cucumber and tastes like spring.
The Oyamel late night happy hour menu is available Sunday through Wednesday from 10pm to midnight and Thursday through Saturday from 11pm to close.