The husband-and-wife owners of 6-year-old Bazin’s on Church in Vienna are opening a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar called Alegria right next door (111 Church St. NW). Patrick and Julie Bazin say Alegria, which translates to “happiness and joy” in Spanish, fills a need they see in Northern Virginia. For Patrick, the chef in the family, it’s a way to share a cuisine “my wife and I eat all the time” at home, where they routinely make corn tortillas and fresh salsas.
The owners tapped Yuri Soria, 36, a former sous chef under Patrick Bazin at Occidental Grill in Washington, to execute a menu of mostly small plates. There will be ceviches for fish eaters, at least six meatless dishes for vegetarians and chicken mole, spicy beef tacos and pork empanadas for carnivores. The bar is expected to add “fun energy” to the dining room, says the restaurateur, 49, who hopes to tamp down excess noise with foam sound-proofing hidden behind Alegria’s gold fabric walls. The 45-seat newcomer is also dressed in brick, reclaimed barn wood and wrought-iron chandeliers.
Bazin, who says his new project is partly inspired by Frontera Grill , chef Rick Bayless’s James Beard Award-winning Mexican eatery in Chicago, is no stranger to this style of cooking. Veteran Washington chowhounds might remember the time he spent working under southwestern culinary authority Mark Miller at the late Red Sage in the District in the ‘90s.
Fans of Mexican food won’t have to wait long to eat it at Alegria, which takes the place of a wine shop, Church Street Cellars. The restaurant is expected to open next month, possibly April 9.