Spanish chef Rubén García is ready to release details on his anticipated flagship restaurant and tapas bar coming downtown this September. Casa Teresa is the first solo venture for the José Andrés Group vet of 16 years, who got avant-garde Minibar its pair of Michelin stars along the way.
Casa Teresa will anchor the Square, downtown’s forthcoming food hall spearheaded by García and fellow Andrés alum Richie Brandenburg. The duo’s recently formed Unfold Hospitality group will also pack the showy International Square property with 16 vendors, a large bar in the central atrium, an expansive outdoor dining space, retail, and more (1850 K Street NW).
For his breakout debut, the Catalán chef goes back in time to revive ancestral recipes of the culinary matriarchs he grew up around in Terrassa, Spain. Casa Teresa celebrates time-honored traditions of Basque Country and Catalonia, with plans to prepare family-style orders of whole fish, pass-the-plate grilled meats, and veggie dishes over open flames and oak charcoal.
“There’s no better way to go back to my roots than go back to the most basic style of cooking, which is fire. It’s challenging, fulfilling, and humbling as well,” the Catalán chef tells Eater.
Casa Teresa is named for his great grandmother Teresa Espinosa Moreno — a female and labor rights activist during a tumultuous time for Spain when dictator Francisco Franco took power in 1939.
“To put her name on the entrance comes with a big responsibility. We are still having to fight for equality for everyone [today],” he says.
He plans to use his deeply personal project as a platform to support female wine producers and farms. Look for locally sourced beef, poultry, and vegetables, plus a dry-aging program in-house. And if it’s not in season, it won’t be on the menu. “We never had tomatoes in winter, and peaches were for summer,” he says, recalling his Mediterranean diet growing up.
After spending five years at Catalonia’s three-Michelin-starred modernist marvel El Bulli, García met fellow El Bulli alum Andrés and took his career to the U.S. As creative director of Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup (now José Andrés Group), García helped build up its coast-to-coast restaurant empire before leaving in early 2020 to pursue his own endeavor.
Years in the making, Casa Teresa will also feature a next-door tapas bar showcasing his country’s treasured street foods and small plates like patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo, croqueta de jamon, and tortilla de patatas. The casual counterpart emulates elements of lively pintxo bars scattered across Spain: “noisy, soccer playing, drinking from a porrón, and finger foods,” he says.
Look for a Jamón Ibérico cart dedicated to live carvings of Spain’s prized pig, plus a selection of tinned seafood, imported cheeses like Manchego, and slow-cooked stews like thick gazpachos that are “hopefully going to be as good as my grandmother used to make,” he says.
The space itself also conjures memories of his upbringing, styled to resemble the rustic farmhouse he grew up in. “The heart of the house is the kitchen — it heats the house in winter and is where the family stands around and stories are shared,” he says.
As such, a big open kitchen in the center of Casa Teresa carves out room for a 16-seat “Teresa’s Table” that encourages chatty chef-guest interactions over tastings.
A visit to Casa Teresa is designed to be a progressive dining experience, “heading to the tapas bar first with friends and family for vermouth and then going to ‘grandma’s house’ to feast,” he says.
García and Unfold Hospitality partner Brandenburg — the driving force behind Union Market — bet big on the 9-to-5 neighborhood, with plans to fill up the surrounding Square food hall with tacos (Taqueria Xochi), top-rated sushi, an oyster bar and cafe from D.C. industry vets Ann Cashion and Johnny Fulchino, a Peruvian pad from Causa chef Carlos Delgado, and multiple Spanish stalls.