This post has been updated.
When he took over the former Galileo III space downtown last year, Aziz Safi was mum about his intentions, other than to say the replacement restaurant at 600 14th St. NW would be Mexican in flavor. Now, the owner of Panache in the District and Tysons Corner says he’s partnering with an out-of-town celebrity chef for his third act: Todd English, the New York-based personality with a PBS show and a dozen different concepts in his global restaurant portfolio.
The name of their 135-seat dining room will be MXDC. “It’s catchy, short and to-the-point,” is how Safi recalls English describing the four letters. With construction at the restaurant complete, MXDC may be able to open within the first two weeks of June.
English has been a presence in Washington before, at the late Olives on 16th St. NW (now P.J.Clarke’s). “I’ve missed it!” he says. The difference between then and now: “It was tough to get anyone (to dine) after 8 p.m. downtown.” While English plans to be a regular visitor to the future property, he’s hired Mexico native Juan Carlos Pavlovich to act as chef de cuisine at MXDC. Previously, Pavlovich worked for his boss at Todd English P.U.B. in Las Vegas.
This isn’t English’s first dip into the Mexican larder. The chef says his debut restaurant job was at a small Mexican restaurant in Connecticut during high school. And just two months ago, English rolled out Olives Mexico City.
The modern Mexican menu at MXDC will include ceviches, house-made tortillas and sauces, whole grilled fish, lots of mezcals and guacamole. “Do you know anyone who doesn’t like guacamole?" asks English, a “huge fan” who plans to serve the dip using spring peas, artichokes and even lobster.
A previous version of this post referred to chef Juan Carlos Pavlovich as Juan Carlos.