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The 28-seat garden patio at Poca Madre will be open year round thanks to heat lamps.

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Penn Quarter’s Poca Madre Will Transport Diners to an Oaxacan Oasis Starting June 19

Peek inside Victor Albisu’s first formal Mexican restaurant, which slides into the former Del Campo space

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Poca Madre founder Victor Albisu wants to transport D.C. diners to a plant-filled, sun-splashed Oaxacan paradise at his debut modern Mexican restaurant.

Penn Quarter’s upscale, desert-inspired companion to Albisu’s wildly popular street food chain, Taco Bamba, is scheduled to open on Tuesday, June 19. Unlike the artificial tree at the heart of Wharf newcomer Mi Vida, or the mosaic tile work that adorns the walls at neighboring chain Rosa Mexicano, Albisu has flooded his newest restaurant with lush greenery and natural light. The fully renovated space replaces the back of Albisu’s now-defunct Del Campo (777 Eye Street NW), which welcomed his dressed-down taqueria Taco Bamba up front soon after closing this year. Albisu is currently searching for a new home for South American-themed Del Campo.

While the plates that will be coming out of the kitchen are inspired by fare currently served in Mexico City (stay tuned for additional details about the opening menu), Poca Madre’s layout and design is inspired by another region entirely.

“This breezy hidden restaurant really reminds me more of an Oaxacan spot, whether it’s a rooftop or hidden alley — this has this kind of vibe to it,” Albisu says.

Its secretive entrance is wedged into a walkway between two adjoining office sites on Eye and K streets NW. Inside, customers will find a 68-seat main dining room with living vines creeping down from the ceiling. There’s geometric prints on the walls; photos of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; sliding barn doors that seal off a semi-private dining room; and potted succulents planted at every table.

Albisu says he could attach other nature-filed Poca Madres to existing or future Taco Bamba locations know that he’s got this one down. “I let life take its natural course,” he says. The twin Penn Quarter restaurants, which share the same kitchen, will not allow diners to order food or drinks from the other. And Poca Madre’s lounge-y atmosphere and music selection will also be totally different than the scene at Taco Bamba.

“It won’t be in-your-face hip hop and heavy metal,” Albisu says. “We’ll give them a break with the aesthetics.”

Status: Projected to open at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19. 777 Eye Street NW; website.

Scroll on to look around the new Poca Madre:

Swatchroom’s redesign of Poca Madre includes white and grey walls, a white quartz bar, black paneling, and pops of green inspired by the agave plant.

Modern laser-cut details let light shine in at Poca Madre. Tiny potted succulents sit at each table setting.

Accents at Poca Madre include a vine-wrapped installation suspended over the dining room, and plant-filled copper pots adorning the bar.

The private dining room at Poca Madre, which can be converted for regular dinner service, features a panoramic image of the Southwestern Sonoran desert, printed with green ink on whitewashed wood.

Local photographer Dominique Fierro’s interpretation of Frida Kahlo overlooks the dining room at Poca Madre. A 3-D piece from Maggie O’Neill is made up of construction drawings rolled into an organic, floral pattern.

The side entrance to Poca Madre is adorned with a glowing black-and-white agave logo.

Poca Madre

Techworld Plaza, , DC 20001 (202) 838-5300 Visit Website
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