The Square, 1850 K St., NW.
Open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 3 PM (weekend and evening hours are forthcoming).
For the past year, a nondescript, brutalist office building just above the Farragut West Metro station has been transforming itself. The Square, which opens Tuesday, takes over an entire city block, and the 25,000-square-foot space has a massive interior courtyard, commissary kitchen, and garage doors that open onto the street.
The food hall is operated by former minibar chef and José Andrés Group creative director Rubén García and Richie Brandenburg, who helped create DC food halls Union Market and La Cosecha. Both chefs will run several of their own restaurant concepts within the space.
The Square’s team of chefs resembles a reunion of José Andrés’s Think Food Group. “It’s a small city,” García says. “We all know each other, we all help each other.” Veteran chef and restaurateur Ann Cashion, who will run Cashion’s Rendezvous at the Square, hired Andrés at Jaleo. Chef Teresa Padilla and Geraldine Mendoza, the duo behind Taqueria Xochi, are alumnae of China Chilcano and Oyamel.
In addition to the vendors in the hall, the Square will provide catering and banquets for nearby offices. Brandenburg and García met running Jose Andres’s various eateries and services at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, and they say the Square will run much like a big hotel or casino. The vast downstairs kitchen can handle events and prep work for all of the restaurants combined and features a dry-aging room for beef, dozens of prep stations, enormous stand mixers and various other kitchen toys for chefs to use.
García and Brandenburg say they’re trying to create a more collaborative model for food halls, where everyone is on equal footing. The pair won’t charge tenants a base rent. Instead, restaurants pay a percentage of their sales to the Square.
Tuesday marks the Square’s grand opening, but not every spot is up and running just yet. The first phase consists of six food options, half of which are García and Brandenburg’s own creations. There will be multiple openings staggered throughout the fall. Causa chef Carlos Delgado (also a José Andrés veteran who once ran the kitchen at China Chilcano) will open Cebicheria Chalaca, a Lima-style seafood bar. Sushi chef Masaaki Uchino—formerly head chef at Sushi Nakazawa—will run the casual Kiyomi Sushi by Uchi. And Tom Wellings and Camila Arango, who operate Union Market bakery Pluma, will open Flora Pizzeria. Brandenburg and García also have more plans up their sleeves, including a traditional Spanish steakhouse called Casa Teresa, a gourmet retail hub called Shoals Market, and a “healthy concept.”
Here’s what’s opening on Tuesday:
This Puebla-style taqueria is on an ambitious expansion streak: In addition to the original U Street location and the Square, owners Teresa Padilla and Geraldine Mendoza are preparing to open a new location at Amazon’s HQ2 development in Crystal City. Xochi’s specialty is the cemita, a regional torta on a seeded bun typically filled with chicken milanesa, stringy Oaxaca cheese, avocado, and chipotle sauce. This spot will also serve birria tacos and drinks such as margaritas and palomas.
Ann Cashion and business partner Johnny Fulchino have run restaurants together for years, including Cashion’s Eat Place and Johnny’s Half Shell. Both restaurants had decades-long runs before shutting down in 2016 and 2020, respectively. The duo intend to “carry on the legacy” of those two restaurants at the Square with oysters, crabcakes, fried seafood po’boys, and stiff drinks.
Chef John Mooney (who runs Bidwell at Union Market) is starting off with a simple dish: juicy fried chicken with a marinated cucumber salad for $5. Brandenburg, who just returned from a fried chicken road trip through Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas, boldly proclaims: “This fried chicken’s better than anybody’s in the South.” The menu will also include a fried chicken sandwich, radishes dusted with tajín, and Japanese disco tots with togarashi mayo and cheese curds.
Try the oak-grilled meats and vegetables from García’s incoming restaurant Casa Teresa in a more casual setting. García is inspired by Catalonian masias, farmhouse eateries where he and his father used to stop for hearty meals while mountain biking outside of Barcelona. Dishes include char-grilled sausages—including butifarra and Basque txistorra—and seasonal vegetables such as little gem lettuce and broccoli with a slice of pan con tomate and a dollop of allioli (Spanish aïoli) for dipping.
Garcia is especially proud of Jamón Jamón, which focuses on the Iberian peninsula’s rich meat and cheese traditions, along with tapas and bocadillo sandwiches. He plans to bring master jamón carvers from Spain to teach his employees how to expertly carve thin slices of Ibérico Bellota and Cebo Iberico.
The name for this soft-serve-and-churros corner comes from Brandenburg’s grandfather, a German immigrant who opened an ice cream shop on First Avenue in New York. But its menu is an even split between Brandenburg and García, who carefully selected the churro-making gear and techniques: extra protein-rich flour, thick hot chocolate, and a specialty deep fryer.
The new development opens up an airy space in the middle of the city block between I and K Streets, and the central courtyard has plush modern sofas, plant-covered green walls, and an array of globe pendant lamps suspended from the ceiling on long cables. It’s a pleasant space to sip cocktails from bartender Owen Thomson in the 42-seat Atrium Bar, where nods to Spain include sherry, Estrella Galicia beer, and El Bandarra red vermouth on ice. Thomson, another Think Food Group alum, owned the U Street tiki bar Archipelago, which closed in August.
Correction: Owen Thomson’s last name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.