Aïoli Bodega Española
The interior of this lively stalwart on the L Street corridor boasts eclectic charm—tables covered in brown paper and burlap, a pounded copper bar and unique artwork, including a statue of a goat holding court over patrons. But the real allure is hidden out back, where a secluded courtyard with a colorful tile fountain makes the perfect retreat for a romantic meal, a gathering of friends or just a serene moment away from the midtown bustle. With its emphasis on classic Spanish tapas, Aïoli is all about sharing small plates. The boquerones en vinagre (cured anchovies), for example, is a delicious and mild take on the tiny fish, served in a garlicky dressing softened with olive oil. But even for the less adventurous, the extensive menu has something for all tastes, from simple salads to hearty meats, like the braised lamb shank served with white beans and spinach in a rich tomato sauce.