Though not really that new, Jaleo’s redesigned interior blew me away on a recent visit. As a tried-and-true Chinatown happy hour spot, I stopped in to check out the new digs before heading to the theater next door.
The fresh design is half Madrid, half fun: there’s a toro (bull) head mounted on the wall wearing a luchador mask, there is a series of conceptual photographs of frolicking feet in sneakers on the wall behind the bar. As far as practical changes, there are sound pads installed above the bar to absorb the higher volume in a small space, the edges of the bars are rounded, with curves protruding in place of high tables. The result is a sleeker, smarter design.
But the changes come at a price. I was sorry to find that happy hour at Jaleo is now a thing of the past. The Crystal City and Bethesda locations of the local chain still feature happy hour (with discounted wine, beer and tapas plates), but the Chinatown location no longer allows lowered prices at any time. Jaleo has been transformed into a lovely restaurant: it’s a little fancier, a few rungs up the ladder.
Of course, what is good for business means that frequenting Jaleo [for me] will no longer be so frequent. Stopping in for a discounted glass of wine and some gambas alioli with patatas bravas and peasant bread is gone; a sit-down dinner for twice the price has arrived.
Ah well, Jaleo. At least I can say I knew you when.
Written by Haley Fults.