Judging Restaurants – Taberna Del Alabardero

Taberna Del Alabardero is located at 1776 I Street NW (Entrance On 18th Street between H and I). According to their Web site:

“In his first venture abroad, Luis Lezama crossed the Atlantic to open Taberna Del Alabardero in the Nation’s Capital city on March 27, 1989. Washingtonian Magazine restaurant critic Robert Shoffner calls it “The best Spanish restaurant in the Country”. The New York Times enthusiastically greeted the restaurant’s arrival, just four blocks from The White House, saying Lezama was “… finally bringing a sophisticated Spanish Kitchen to the Nation’s Capital…

Since 1989 Taberna quickly garnered high praise and a legion of acolytes, fast forward 21 years later executive Chef Javier Romero continues to carry the torch that was established. While the restaurant regularly plays host to diplomats and dignitaries, all of our guest are special, and we welcome you as we would into our own home.

You can see their menus here.

Any must order items?

17 Comment

  • There’s an O at the end. Taberna Del Alabadero.

  • It’s Albadero.

  • Went here for my birthday a few years ago, ordered a paella for my wife and I. We ordered a paella that had pancetta and white beans in it. However, after a few bites, we looked at each other and said, “there’s no meat in this”, and we soon made the waiter aware of this. To rectify, about two minutes later, he brought us out a bread plate with a little pile of pancetta to mix into our dish.

    The crazy thing was, this is a pretty nice restaurant, and when the cook was informed by the waiter that he had screwed up an off-the-menu dish, their solution was just to bring out the missing ingredient for us to introduce into our meal.

    Not impressed. I’ve never been there again, and I won’t recommend it to anyone else.

  • I went there 18 months ago for Restaurant Week and was disappointed… small portions, and the food was kind of bland and overcooked. Maybe it’s better when you’re paying sticker price, but the RW menu seemed to be an afterthought.

  • When the weather is nice and their sidewalk is open, I’m a big fan of their happy hour. $15 for a pitcher of wonderful sangria.

    • So true! In the spring/summer, the outdoor cafe tables are always packed. This is a stellar happy hour at a most reasonable price. Appetizers are super-fab and the sangria is delicious.

  • We went there for restaurant week last winter w/ a group, and it was great. Its hard to judge a place based on restaurant week, but the service was very good. The decor is old European, with rich colors and tapestries, so you can quickly forget you are in the ground level of a big building in DC. I’m having trouble remembering the food, which can happen with good company and good wine! I do know we all left full and happy.

  • I agree with others, I was disappointed by this place. The food, service and decor was nothing special. I had such high hopes. Spanish food can be so good. I still miss El Bodegon that used to be on R St. NW near 17th.

  • Wow! I can’t believe people are hating on this place. It’s one of the best Spanish restaurants in the country. It’s amazing. Their sister restaurant in Madrid is just as good.
    If you’re on a budget, maybe Jaleo and Tasca are more in your range. But Taberna is a DC institution…

    • Actually, Taberna is not one of the best Spanish restaurants in the country. It’s not even one of the best Spanish restaurants in DC, at least according to Washingtonian’s 2010 list of 100 best restaurants. Taberna didn’t make the cut. Interestingly enough, Jaleo, the “budget” restaurant, did. In fact, it’s the only Spanish restaurant on the list
      Both times I have tried Taberna the food was decent but uninteresting – not much flavor, layering, or complexity. Nice looking place, lots of tradition, attentive staff. But I have not found the food to be anything to rave about. Apparently, Washingtonian agrees.

  • I completely agree with the poster above. This is one of D.C.’s finest restaurants. To get a real idea of this place you need to have a loose budget. Their food is very traditional and absolutely delicious.

    • jburka

      Eh. My husband and I went with another couple to celebrate a 40th birthday. Thought it was decent, but not especially worth the price. We mostly recommended it because we knew that the decor would appeal to the celebrant’s wife. Which it did.

      Food-wise, Jaleo and Estadio are both miles above…

  • I went once for restaurant week, and I thought it was wonderful. My memory is foggy on exactly what I ate, but I recall it being very good.

    What does stick in my memory however, is the decor. It’s BEAUTIFUL inside. And if you go upstairs to the restroom, you take a catwalk that gives you a view of an entire dining room as well as the kitchen. Lovely.

  • Skip it skip it skip it skip it. Very expensive, and very mediocre. No way I’d ever go back. Nothing about it was remotely memorable, other than the price tag. If you want spanish food (albeit a different style) Estadio is much better, and more affordable, to boot.

  • wait, lemme get this straight…. some people love it, some people think it’s not so great.
    we clear now?

  • Top Spanish on Georgia Ave (across the street from Looking Glass) is excellent. Try it.

    From restaurant.com:

    Chef Gabriel Flores, takes his over 25 years of experience in the culinary industry into the owner seat at Top Spanish Cafe & Catering. Chef Flores was recognized for distinguished service at the Pentagon, served as Executive Chef at Cafe Atlantic, Austin Grill, Caracalla’s Reni son Hotel and Interamericano, and has opened and operated restaurants in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and other Caribbean Countries; which have significantly influenced his style of infusing Caribbean, European, and Tex-Mex Cuisine. Chef Flores has developed menus for Rincon Espanol, Rinconsito Cafe and worked along such recognized chefs like Jose Andres of Jaleo.

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