Check Out Oyamel’s New Lounge (Photos)

José Andrés adds intimate seating and double the number of bar stools to his Penn Quarter Mexican place.

By: Douglas Bair

Update: The restaurant sends word that the new space will not open until Friday, June 14 at dinner.

When the marg-and-guac craving strikes, the bar at Oyamel is the no-brainer spot to soothe the itch. But there’ve never been enough stools to go around. Six years ago, José Andrés moved his Crystal City Mexican spot to Penn Quarter, luring Verizon Center and Shakespeare Theatre Company patrons who have packed into its all-too-small bar area ever since.

To accommodate the masses, Andrés has added a new 900-square-foot lounge. Earlier this year, the restaurateur purchased the shuttered ticket office next door and gutted it—Oyamel now flows into this adjacent space. The new lounge offers brightly colored banquettes, black leather settee-style sofa booths, and a private dining “enclave” with Louis XV ghost chairs by Philippe Starck. All told, it accommodates 42 more margarita drinkers, and should help slash wait times for tables. Certainly it will cut down on the awkwardness of waiting for a spot in the dining room—the newly elongated white acrylic bar now wraps into this lounge-esque space with double the walnut-wood bar stools.

Brightly colored banquettes line the new lounge area.

This new environment—a creative collaboration between Andrés and Georgetown-based architects Peter Hapstak and Olvia Demetriou—evolves Oyamel’s signature butterfly motif with holographic video projections shining through sheer partitions between each booth and a mural of butterflies fluttering around a woman’s hair that encompasses the dining enclave.

Go see the new space starting Thursday at lunch.

Black leather booths create cozy nooks for digging into a big bowl of guac.
The private dining area features a multi-wall mural by General Design Company. Local model Julie Zeger posed for the painting.