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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 03/28/2012

The renovated Jaleo channels a modern Spain

The "jump" photographs by Daniel Canogar, located behind the bar, are designed to make Jaleo feel alive and welcoming. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Crews were still installing some of the final pieces of art and wiping the windows clean, but America’s reigning outstanding chef is unveiling his totally redesigned Jaleo in Penn Quarter today after a fast, 30-day renovation.

“It’s Jaleo, 21st century. It’s the Spain of today,” says chef Jose Andres, during a construction site walk-through of Jaleo, which no longer channels the Spain of bull fighters and flamenco dancers. “It’s also the Spain of the old traditional products: the iberico. It’s same concept we’ve always been, just more and more. Old means new.”

As he did with the Las Vegas edition of Jaleo, Andres asked his long-time friend Juli Capella, a designer and architect, to help reimagine the Penn Quarter restaurant, which first opened in 1993. Capella has a unique knowledge, the chef says. The architect knows “Spanish designers around the world,” which allowed Capella to engage these artisans to design custom-made objects and artwork for the new Jaleo.

“I tried to capture the spirit of Jose and tapas and Spain,” says Capella.

“One day, we’ll have 10, 20 or 50 Jaleos around America or around the world,” says Andres. “What we’re doing now is . . . trying to understand what direction we want to move. So this is a double experiment.”

You can take a look at this experience in finer detail after the jump. Or you can just visit Jaleo, which reopens today with limited seating.

The tiny neon logo has been replaced by giant illuminated letters that spell out the restaurant's name across the front windows. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

"I love those," Jose Andres says about the foosball tables designed by the chef himself. "I always want to play." (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The two foosball tables feature nontraditional players, such as this KISS Army refugee, as designed by artist Claudina Codina. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The custom-made beads are designed to represent the bead curtains that hang from doorways in Spain to keep the flies out. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The floors in the restrooms will make everyone feel good about their body type. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The hanging book lights, designed by Marti Guixe, are similar to those found in the private “library” dining room at the Jaleo in Las Vegas. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The individual tables in the bar area have been replaced with a single long, curving tabletop that should create more space for drinks and tapas. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The bar ceiling was designed to recall Spanish fruit and vegetable markets. The ceiling was also built from materials that help dampen noise. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The curved window space at the corner of E and Seventh streets NW will be given over to a rotating display of Spanish objects, like these drinking vessels. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The tiles for the new flooring are hand-painted. "It's a petal, but it's also a drop," says architect and designer Juli Capella. "It's also a tear, and it's also a ham." (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The renovated Jaleo places a lot of emphasis on designer chairs, like these stools built from old Vespa seats. The designer is Emili Padros. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The new floor plan for Jaleo divides the room into a casual space with foosball tables and a more "formal" dining area. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The menus will remain mostly the same — including the same prices — but Andres has added a few dishes, including this pisto manchego. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

By  |  12:15 PM ET, 03/28/2012

Categories:  Chefs | Tags:  Tim Carman

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