When tapas spot Boqueria opens its second DC location in Penn Quarter on March 6, it will serve more than just small plates. Favorites like patatas bravas and pan con tomate will be familiar to fans of the Dupont restaurant, but new offerings will include family-style feasts and other dishes that chef Marc Vidal remembers from his family’s former Barcelona restaurant.
“My mom grew up there. Our food was like a menu del dia. At lunch, we had factory workers coming all the way every day,” Vidal says of the now-shuttered family restaurant, Bar Roca. “I’ve always had this in the back of my mind.”
Now Vidal is drawing from some of his grandmother’s daily restaurant specials, including her giant pots of saffron-rice paella and rotisserie chicken. Vidal installed a rotisserie in Boqueria’s kitchen to slow-roast his own chickens, which will be paired with salsa verde. The most elaborate of the larger platters is a whole-suckling-pig feast ($95 per person) that requires a minimum of six guests and three days’ notice to the restaurant. The opening act for the pig banquet is a cheese-and-charcuterie board. Servers then bring the the suckling pig to the table and cut it with a plate—a Spanish tradition to break through the crunchy skin.
Another new feature of the restaurant is the 12-seat chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen. But no matter where you sit, you can order à la carte or choose between two menus—an exploration of the restaurant’s most popular items ($49 per person) or a sampling of seasonal dishes ($60 per person). The classic menu highlights favorites such as roasted eggplant escalivada and bacon-wrapped dates, while the market menu includes hand carved jamón Ibérico.
The name Boqueria refers to Barcelona’s famed marketplace, and Vidal says the experience most reminiscent of eating at one of the destination’s lively restaurants is a seat at the sleek marble bar. The drink menu offers red, white, and rosé sangrias (plus seasonal flavors like white wine, watermelon, and basil) alongside cheese boards and charcuterie. At happy hour, the menu includes drink specials and snacks such as head-on shrimp baked in sea salt. Servers break the salt in front of guests, who then peel the shrimp inside the salt.
Happy hour will unroll in the coming weeks. The restaurant opens for lunch on March 14 and brunch on March 30.
Boqueria. 777 Ninth St., NW. 202-552-3268. Open Monday through Thursday 11 AM to 10:30 PM, Friday to Saturday 11 AM to 11:30 PM, Sunday 11 AM to 10:30 PM.