Tapas fans, mark your calendars for March 15. That’s the launch date for the long-awaited Boqueria at 1837 M St. NW. A spinoff of the popular Spanish restaurants of the same name in the Flatiron and Soho in Manhattan, this Boqueria will be the largest to date, with 110 indoor seats and an outdoor patio.

Chef Brian helping move in the furniture.All in a day’s work to open Boqueria DC. twitter.com/Boqueria/statu…

— Boqueria (@Boqueria) February 25, 2012

There’s a local connection: Owner Yann de Rochefort is a Hoya, a 1989 graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  The Paris-born restaurateur says he knows the neighborhood well. His first job out of college, for a small consulting firm, was a half block away from where his third eatery replaces the long-dark Penang.

When we last spoke, de Rochefort mentioned a fall 2011 debut. He playfully explains the delay by asking: “Have you ever tried to open a restaurant in Washington?”

Corporate chef Marc Vidal, a native of Barcelona, says the opening menu will include the Spanish classics served on the New York lists – squid a la plancha, cod fritters with lemon aioli, blistered Padron peppers, among others – plus dishes special to Washington. They include Catalan-style flatbreads, or cocas, and “hunter’s rice,” which translates to a paella-like entrée bulked up with roasted quail, mushrooms and artichokes.

 The Washington restaurant (“the most special of the three,” says its owner) will open with a glass-enclosed vestibule and a dominant bar displaying both food and drink. Walls of white oak and tiled columns will follow the color palette of the New York establishments. Boqueria’s signature counter-high, metal-and-leather stools will also make the move to the downtown corner location.

 Brian Murphy has been hired as chef de cuisine for the project. Previously, he cooked at Policy in Washington and Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.

 The restaurant will open for dinner only, but de Rochefort expects it to be serving both lunch and dinner daily within a month or so.

 Boqueria takes its name from Mercat de la Boqueria, the famous food market in Barcelona.