Dining Out 1 minute 26 January 2024

This Local D.C. Favorite Serves Up Seasonal + Delicious Mexican Cuisine for Under $30

Bib Gourmand Oyamel brings flavor and quality to Washington D.C's dining scene.

In case you need a refresh, the Bib Gourmand distinction is awarded to restaurants that offer multicourse meals at reasonable prices. And while all are unique and the “price” varies from country to country, the standard for quality remains the same.

That’s why every Friday, we’re highlighting our Bib of the Week: where to go, what to order, the best time to stop by, and everything in between. So, whether it’s high energy Chinese flavors in Toronto or some of Denver's best Latin food, our selection of Bib Gourmand spots will leave both you and your wallet satisfied.

There's a reason why José Andrés' spot remains packed night in and night out. Their goal is to be an ambassador of Mexican cuisine and bring the diverse dishes of Mexico to Washington D.C. And through seasonal ingredients and a modern twist, Oyamel has managed to do exactly that. 

But don’t take our word for it, check out what our Inspectors had to say here, and below, learn from the team about what you need to know before you go.

José Andrés Group
José Andrés Group

What is the dish to order at Oyamel?

Taco de lengua! A lot of the newer dishes are things I grew up eating or that I've fallen in love with through my travels. The Taco de lengua is a good example of that. It's very nostalgic for me, but also very Mexican. My 10-year-old self would want this and if you're familiar with Mexican cuisine or are from Mexico, you might remember eating it too. It might be a little different if it's new to you, but the flavor is still approachable.

What price range can customers expect at Oyamel?

$30 and under.

When is the best time to stop by?

I think lunch is a great time to come to Oyamel. It’s a little easier to get a seat, sit down, relax and enjoy a leisurely meal before things become more lively in the bar.

José Andrés Group
José Andrés Group

What was the idea behind Oyamel?

When Oyamel first opened nearly 20 years ago, D.C. lacked a true representation of Mexican cuisine. Our goal is to break the mold and change the perception of what Mexican food is (a lot of people still think it's Tex Mex), and to be ambassadors of the cuisine.

We want to celebrate authentic Mexican flavors and the vibrancy of urban Mexico City. It feels like a fiesta as soon as you walk in, with bright colors and energetic music. The menu captures the diversity of dishes you'll find in Mexico, with a modern approach to each.

How would you describe your approach to food and cooking?

My whole goal here is to maintain the authentic roots and stories in each dish, but also to be able to modernize them. This is a restaurant that’s not in Mexico, so I use ingredients that are not Mexican because they’re not available. The trick is to utilize what’s available to you and still incorporate the same traditions.

How did you conceive of a menu that is delicious, yet good value?

Seasonality and utilizing lots of vegetables helps with cost. Despite misconceptions about Mexican cuisine, there are lots of vegetables consumed in Mexico so there’s lots of vegetarian dishes on the menu. If you use the vegetables that are in season, you get a better cost. That’s why the menu rotates based on what’s available. For protein, I try to buy a lot of local products, which may be more expensive, but I’m willing to spend the extra money for flavor and quality.

José Andrés Group
José Andrés Group

Hero image: José Andrés Group

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