Jalapeños – Fine Spanish dining

Whenever I asked friends for restaurant recommendations in Annapolis, Maryland, Jalapeños was always on the list. They serve a combination of Spanish and Mexican food, and that includes tapas. Because of the tapas I held off going there until I had a group, in order to get a good sample. I have finally done so.

Appetizers

We started our meal with some chips and chili con queso. The chips were crisp and fresh and the queso was warm and tasty. There was nothing exceptional about either, but they were both well made. A good way to start the meal.

Queso and chips

Tapas

As the plan was to try their tapas, we ordered an assortment of them. I ordered the stuffed jalapenos, Alcachofas Salteadas (Artichoke hearts sauteed in olive oil), and Nopalitos con Mole (Cactus in mole sauce). All were very good, but my favorite was the Nopalitos con Mole. It was substantial and had great flavor. My one friend ordered the pork tenderloin, artichoke hearts, and Vieras Bahia (sea scallops with Mexican mix). He like all three, but the one that stood out the most was the scallops. My other friend ordered the Hanger steak and the salmon with capers. He gave both favorable reviews. He didn’t specify a favorite, but I must saw the Hanger steak looked fantastic.

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One comment I do want to make about the tapas was that most were not sized for sharing. A couple were, most notably the stuffed jalapeños, but most of them were single person servings. What I like about tapas is the ability to sample and share and I feel I did not get that here.

Desserts

We ended the meal with some desserts. I had a dessert enchilada which consisted of plantains inside a shell, deep fried, and topped with a caramel sauce and ice cream. Absolutely delicious. One of my friends had a lemon curd style dessert and quite enjoyed it.

Other menu items

Classic margarita

The tapas are only a small part of Jalapeños’ menu. What about the other items? They have a large selection of both Spanish and Mexican dishes, including a range of tacos, soups and even paella. On a separate trip, I tried a couple of them. My choices were Tamales in Mole sauce and the Trucha al Caldillo. The latter is sauteed trout with a sweet guajillo pepper sauce. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had them, but my recollection is that I preferred the tamales.

Jalapeños also has a decent selection of cocktails. I have had their classic margarita a couple of times and have been happy with it.

Final thoughts

Jalapeños has a nice ambience, giving the feel of fine dining. Soft Spanish music plays in the background and sporadically throughout the restaurant are paintings of dancers, further enhancing the mood. The service is excellent and the food is high quality. There is wide variety of dishes to choose from, so there is a little of something for everybody. My only complaint is that the portion sizes of the tapas is a bit small. That was not true of the entrees. On my next trip, I plan on ordering from that part of the menu.

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