Early Valentine's Day celebration: Mrs. Obama has made repeat visits to the restaurant, and dubbed it one of her local favorites...
Washington, DC - After a busy week that included traveling to Michigan to sign the Farm Bill, President Barack Obama on Saturday evening escorted First Lady Michelle Obama to a Date Night dinner at the Penn Quarter hotspot Oyamel. Mrs. Obama knows the Mexican restaurant well: After repeat visits she has dubbed it one of her DC favorites, and said she is a big fan of the Margaritas.
The First Couple lingered for close to two hours after arriving by motorcade at 8:19 PM on a bitterly cold night, and fellow diners gave them cheers and applause. It was their first joint dinner excursion of 2014 in the nation's capital, and it was also a first visit for President Obama.
The White House did not say if the First Couple was celebrating Valentine's Day early, but it seems likely: They will be apart on Feb. 14th. President Obama is scheduled to travel to Maryland to meet with Democrats, and then he will fly to Southern California to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Oyamel is owned by the superstar of DC's culinary scene, the internationally acclaimed chef José Andrés, who has been a repeat guest chef at the White House, and a major supporter of Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign. The President treated Mrs. Obama to a 2013 Valentine's Day dinner at Andrés' chic minibar restaurant, located in the same neighborhood.
In a radio interview after one of her prior Oyamel visits, Mrs. Obama said she is a big fan of the Margaritas as she revealed her favorite menu items. These include the mushroom and pumpkin seed tacos, huitlacoche (Mexican corn tacos), gaspacho soup, guacamole, and tres leches cake for dessert, the First Lady said. She did not give a shout out to one of Andrés more exotic offerings, grasshoppers sauteed with shallots and tequila and served in a taco, an embroidery on the traditional Oaxacan dish.
President Obama once dubbed chips and guacamole his "weakness," saying in an interview "If I get nachos and guacamole I can go to town on that stuff."
The First Lady has said she expected any Valentine's Day festivities to be "low-key" this year, thanks to the President throwing her a huge 50th birthday bash at the White House on Jan. 18.
"My husband really celebrated me so well—he did a great job," Mrs. Obama said in a recent interview. "I had a great couple of weeks, so I think we’re going to low-key it for Valentine’s Day." After 21 years of marriage, Mrs. Obama added, her husband "never forgets a Valentine’s Day,
an anniversary, a birthday. He’s really good at that
kind of stuff."
The press pool was held far from the action at a different restaurant as the President and Mrs. Obama enjoyed their dinner. But Oyamel patron @Anna_Carey posted this Instagram video of the First Couple inside the restaurant, writing "Leader of the free world, everyone":
The Obamas departed Oyamel at 10:02 PM and were greeted outside the restaurant by a cheering crowd of about 20-30 people, who held smartphones aloft to snap photos. The press pool had no sighting of the First Couple at any point in the excursion.
The President and Mrs. Obama were back at the White House minutes later, at 10:06 PM.
The President has no public events scheduled on Sunday. On Monday, he will escort President François Hollande on a tour of Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, kicking off the French leader's State Visit. The President and Mrs. Obama will host a State Dinner for Hollande the next day, their first in nearly two years.
Information: Oyamel is located at 401 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004. Phone: 2012-628-1005.
*Instagram video by @Anna_Carey; photo by Pete Souza/White House