NYC Spanish import Boqueria wants to fill up diners on way more than tapas at its second D.C. outpost, bulking up the new dinner menu with large-format paellas and whole animals that take up lots of table real estate.
The 164-seat stunner opened for dinner Monday night in Penn Quarter (777 Ninth Street NW), bringing the bustling neighborhood a modern-looking dining room straight out of Barcelona complete with swaying palms, abstract artwork, and a thick marbled bar.
Its Cochinillo Feast ($95 per person) requires a minimum of six guests and three days’ notice. The meal kicks off with cheese and charcuterie, followed by a whole suckling pig, seasonal vegetables, and sides.
A chef’s menu section includes a “Boqueria experience” ($60 per person) that takes diners to chef Marc Vidal’s native Barcelona using seasonal dishes and a taste of Spain’s “most prized ingredient,” a 30-month-aged Jamón Ibérico.
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Whole Carabineros shrimp, plucked from Mediterranean waters off of Spain, are “the best you can find ever,” claims Vidal. The chef instructs diners to remove the heads and slurp the juices before tucking into the tails.
Vidal tells Eater his favorite addition to the Penn Quarter lineup is the pollo rustido, which a rotisserie chicken that’s served in half or whole orders ($24-$47). The organic poultry is prepared Spanish style, rubbed with salt and pepper and left overnight for a 12-hour dry brine. While rotating on spits, the chicken gets basted with lard, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Then it’s served with salsa verde.
“It’s not very healthy,” he says, of the fat-laced skin. “I am hoping it’s going to be a big seller.”
A daily happy hour (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) will join the mix later this month, with debut items like Manila clams swimming in an electric green broth comprised of garlic, parsley sauce and fresh herbs. Standby specials include the cojonudo (quail egg, chorizo palacios, and toast points), patatas bravas, and $7 glasses of its red, white, or rose sangria. Lunch service is projected to start on Thursday, March 14.
Its exclusively Spanish wine selection — housed inside a burgundy lacquered wine fridge near the bar — includes unique reds like Señorío de Cuzcurrita, made with grapes harvested inside its La Rioja castle’s walled estate.