Alfredo Sandoval is no stranger to D.C. His brother, celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval, has opened around half a dozen restaurants here, with more to come. He even helped his brother develop Zengo, the first Sandoval location to open in Washington, before he decided to focus on his own restaurant company.
Alfredo Sandoval will make his own mark on the town with Mercadito, which is headed to the Marriott Marquis hotel this winter (Sandoval is aiming for a mid-December opening). The restaurant, which has locations in New York, Las Vegas and Chicago, specializes in tacos, tequila and more.
"I knew that at some point I would come back here and open up a restaurant of my own," he said. Sandoval got connected to the Marriott Marquis through both the Tippling Bros., the beverage consulting group that does work for both Mercadito and the Renaissance hotels, and StreetSense, the design firm that was familiar with Mercadito's Chicago locations.
Marriott had originally planned to open a steakhouse in the location where Mercadito will be, and already had started construction before Mercadito signed on to the project That means Sandoval expects a quick turnaround for the restaurant's construction. "Even the machines had ice in them," he said. He says it will look similar to the Las Vegas branch of the chain.
Sandoval was drawn to the project for several reasons: the scale of the Marriott Marquis, the proximity of the new development CityCenter, the centralized neighborhood, and easy access to conventioneers and hotel guests for a customer base. "In my opinion, D.C. is probably the hottest area for restaurants right now in the United States," he said.
Mercadito customers tend to know all 12 of the restaurant's tacos by name. "The place is very vibrant and offbeat. People often say they make a whole night of it when they go to Mercadito," he said. The company has several other concepts, including Mercadito Fish and a taqueria, which Sandoval said could find a home in D.C. if the original does well.
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