Superstar chef and global humanitarian José Andrés finally fulfills his decades-long dream of opening a restaurant inside downtown’s historic Old Post Office Pavilion. ThinkFoodGroup, now known as José Andrés Group (JAG), unveils an outpost of the luxe Bazaar by José Andrés on Wednesday, February 8, in the newly minted Waldorf Astoria (1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).
The 263-room, clocktower-topped hotel was originally slated to house another restaurant from Andrés, who pulled out following inflammatory remarks about immigrants from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Six years later, 150-seat Bazaar joins Michelin-rated omakase gem Sushi Nakazawa at the opulent hotel that was stripped of the controversial Trump International Hotel flag last spring. Two-story Bazaar slides into the lobby-level space formerly occupied by steakhouse BLT Prime by David Burke.
Born in Beverly Hills in 2008, Spanish-styled Bazaar by José Andrés debuts in D.C. with some nods to Penn Quarter’s pioneering Cafe Atlantico, where Andrés’s two-Michelin-starred Minibar was born. See: conch fritters “Café Atlántico,” modernized with onion jam and a liquid center.
Other longstanding Bazaar starters making their way to D.C. include “Jose” tacos topped with ibérico ham, gold leaf, and caviar; tortilla de papatas “new way” topped with potato foam; and bao con lechon (Chinese steamed bun with pork belly). “Cotton candy foie gras”—the Instagrammable one-biter made famous in LA—is also on the menu. Maryland blue crab, Rappahannock oysters from Virginia, and Chesapeake Bay delicacies show up in an artsy array of a la carte snacks and tapas.
Bazaar’s culinary director Manuel Echeverri recently returned to the company after a four-year hiatus in a big role: helping acclaimed chef Thomas Keller get a Michelin star for The Surf Club Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Surfside, Florida.
“The hope is to bring that iconic feel of the original Bazaar LA back home,” Echeverri tells Eater. “Being in this building, he wants to tap into Americana and U.S. history.”
With that, a “Peek Into the Archives” section of starters includes a beef cheeks “Eisenhower Stew” as a tribute to President Eisenhower’s go-to order while he was in office. A crab Louie cone honors the San Francisco’s 1940s favorite, here filled with local blue crab and a topping of tiny greens with tweezers.
“It’s the most difficult ‘salad’ you can plate but here we are,” says Echeverri.
Puffy airbread—a Bazaar insignia—is the building block for a “Philly Cheesesteak” filled with cheddar and wagyu beef (Miami has a Cubano version). Seared Norwegian lobster “Newberg” in brioche also honors a stateside classic.
When one Bazaar opens, another closes; its oceanfront location in Miami’s SLS hotel closes for good on March 31. Another is en route to the Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad in a few months. Bazaar Meat offshoots sit in Las Vegas, Chicago, and the forthcoming Grand LA complex downtown. Jimmy Pumarol, Bazaar’s senior director of operations who’s been with Andrés for 23 years, is now stationed in D.C.
Every Bazaar has a Jamón and tapas bar, and this one is no different. A dramatic carving station upon entry puts the prized pig on full display, with cuts of acorn-fed Jamón ibérico de bellota—the highest grade of Spanish ham—served in one- or two-ounce tastings. Swirly burgundy tiles blanketing the bar resemble marbled cuts of Jamón.
The station sits under a massive mirrored orb that’s so striking, the shiny beacon for ham is visible from far into the Waldorf Astoria lobby. (“We joke José has a camera inside checking in,” says Pumarol.) Nearby, smoked fish and poultry get the dry-aged treatment behind glass doors in luxe steel fridges made in Germany.
Diners are invited to saddle up to an intimate bar framed with fringed, mustard-toned chairs before going upstairs to the main event. “In Spain, where tapas are big, you have a little cocktail and bite before dinner,” says Pumarol.
A bar backsplash comprised of rows of metal mailboxes salvaged from the Old Post Office ties into the look of é by José Andrés—his tiny Vegas tasting room surrounded with little wooden cabinets of curiosities.
“We always say José has a lot of ideas, and each box is an idea,” says Pumarol.
Other whimsical touches around the bar include glass porrones, oversized apple centerpieces on tables, abstract Spanish artwork, and a 10-seat nook shrouded in thick drapes. Breakfast and lunch menus represent a compilation of dishes influenced by other Andrés establishments. The downstairs bar area is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Starting at 5 p.m., dinner upstairs awaits across a lush level adorned with suspended lanterns, soft emerald banquettes made even cozier with plush pillows, and floral fabrics and wall coverings that speak to Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí. Leafy foliage and trees from around the world add to a botanical vibe, with glittering chandeliers in the soaring lobby contributing to the starry-night dining affair. A lengthy marbled bar in the back is charged with preparing veggie, seafood and meat tapas, presented on the menu in two mirrored sections: modern and traditional. A roving service cart adds tableside touches like steak tartare mixed with yolk and baked salt cod. The cart will also bring a coffee component to the table.
Lacquered wood tables can be reconfigured for both small or large groups up to 14, and the entire back corner overlooking the sprawling restaurant can be flipped into a 40-person private dining room. World-renowned Spanish firm Lázaro Rosa-Violán put together a stylish look meant to reflect the avant-garde menu.
Another corner upstairs is dedicated to a seatless bar showing off mixologists’ cocktail-making magic, a la Barmini, with billowing nitrogen and fragrant elements sent out around the dining room. An “Around the World in 80 Days” cocktail celebrates five countries in one glass, featuring mezcal distilled with Jamón ibérico, genever, manzanilla, Junmai sparking sake, and cachaça. An opening cocktail list of 11 reimagined Beverly Hills Bazaar favorites will eventually balloon to 25 boozy and spirit-free options.
There’s over 20 by-the-glass wine and sherries to start, with a glassy cellar devoted to reds showcased in the marble stairwell. The overall list shows love for Spanish, Old World, and Virginia wines.
“It has been thirty years since I first came to D.C. [with Jaleo], and to have The Bazaar open in this beautiful, historic building that has always held a special place for me, is an American dream come true,” says Andrés, in a statement.
The award-winning Spanish chef isn’t here for the opening because he’s currently wearing his humanitarian hat with his World Central Kitchen, providing meals to earthquake-affected zones in Türkiye. He plans to return to D.C. in March.