An Early Look at Boqueria (Pictures)

A Spanish small-plates spot arrives in Dupont by way of Manhattan.

Boqueria's Crema Catalana Clásica. Photographs by Jeff Martin.

With the weather warming to summery temperatures it’s the perfect time to sip sangria, nibble garlicky shrimp, and pretend you’re basking in the Barcelona sunshine. Enter Boqueria, a Manhattan-based Spanish spot opening in Dupont this Thursday.

The small-plates trend has long dominated the Washington dining scene, but executive chef and Barcelona native Mark Vidal gets back to its roots with a menu of classic Spanish tapas such as creamy mushroom and Serrano ham croquetas, little lamb meatballs with sheep’s milk cheese, and gambas al ajillo, those plump shrimp bathed in olive oil and toasted garlic. Much of the lineup is similar to the SoHo and Flatiron Boquerias, but the space itself is larger than the first two, meaning more room to play. A spring paella with quail, artichokes, and mushrooms joins the version topped with a jumble of seafood, and there’s an entire section dedicate to cocas, Catalan-style flatbreads layered with wild mushrooms and Idiazabal cheese or sobrasada, caramelized onions, and quail eggs.

Once regular service is running smoothly, Vidal will work with chef de cuisine Brian Murphy (formerly of Policy) on the “market menu,” a frequently changing lineup of six to eight dishes that will incorporate the chefs’ farmers market finds, specialty items imported from Spain, and inspirations such as crab-stuffed piquillo peppers and bacon-wrapped squid over lentils.

The 25-seat bar will make a prime perch for watching cooks and bartenders work in tandem, pouring pitchers of rosé sangria spiked with bourbon-soaked cherries—an homage to the cherry blossom festival—and spreading platters with cured Spanish meats and cheeses. In the coming weeks, an outdoor patio will debut with an additional 32 seats; it will also be open for eventual lunch and brunch. In the meantime, settle in with a citrusy, beer-based Estrella sangria—it’s not on the menu, but they’ll make it if you ask—and a plate of hand-carved jamón ibérico de bellota.

Boqueria. 1837 M St., NW; 202-558-9545. Open Thursday through Saturday, noon to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, noon to 11 PM.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.