The Washington Post

Coming to Dupont Circle: Boqueria from New York

New York is sending another restaurant our way. Blessedly, Boqueria won’t involve hamburgers or steak, but rather, the flavors of Spain. Expected to open late this fall at 1837 M St. NW in Dupont Circle, the restaurant also comes with more of a connection than most imports: Owner Yann de Rochefort is a 1989 graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

He’ll be returning to familiar ground. His first job out of college, for a small consulting firm, was half a block away from where his third Boqueria will replace the shuttered Penang. (de Rochefort’s other eateries are in the Flatiron and Soho.)

While the Paris-born restaurateur considered Boston, Philadelphia and other markets for his first foray outside New York, he felt most comfortable expanding to Washington. Home to Estadio and Jaleo , the city is “very receptive to tapas concepts,” he says. It didn’t hurt that the “economy held up really well through the recession.”

Boqueria takes its name from Mercat de la Boqueria, the famous food market in Barcelona. Meals I’ve enjoyed at the New York venues have been true to the inspiration.

The future restaurant will seat 120 diners, making it bigger than either of its siblings, and the Washington branch will be the first to offer al fresco seating. “Sangria and the outdoors go well together,” says de Rochefort, who grew up visiting Spain every summer and studied in both Barcelona and Madrid. His corporate chef, Barcelona native Marc Vidal, will oversee the opening menu, which will include a changing market list. A chef de cuisine has yet to be hired.

Already, I’m anticipating blistered Padron peppers, almond-stuffed dates, suckling pig croquettes -- and dangling toes. Another feature de Rochefort plans to bring to Washington are Boqueria’s extra-tall seats.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.


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