After 10 years downtown, celebrity chef Todd English’s sole D.C. restaurant MXDC Cocina Mexicana is on the move. The taco-and-tequila stalwart will relocate one mile north up 14th Street NW and settle into its newly chosen neighborhood of Logan Circle next month. MXDC will take over the entire three-story building that housed now-closed Dolce Vita and sultry subterranean bar Alias on 14th (1610 14th Street NW).
MXDC’s last day of service at the prime corner of 14th and F Streets NW was Saturday, December 30. The 7,000-square-foot space — a block from Clyde’s cash cow Old Ebbitt Grill — is actively being marketed for lease to a future restaurant operator (600 14th Street NW).
MXDC’s menu sports a lengthy list of agave spirits, tacos topped with pork belly, beer-battered mahi mahi, and carne asada, various guacs, tortilla soups, and open-faced quesadillas. Any menu changes for MXDC 2.0 are up to English, per a rep, and the team plans to share more dish details later this month.
The out-of-town chef, who long ran the late Olives on 16th Street NW near the White House, originally split with MXDC soon after its arrival but eventually jumped back on board for the long-haul. It’s not the first time he’s gone back and forth with a project — more recently, he parted ways with a NY comeback restaurant soon after its 2023 opening.
The four-time James Beard Award recipient is currently affiliated with a namesake hotel in Las Vegas and maintains a roster of other English-stamped spots in places like Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alabama, and Dubai, with a private Miami restaurant in the works inside a Bentley-branded luxury condo tower.
English has a controversial history, having been accused of sexual harassment in a 2017 lawsuit against The Plaza Hotel, and has been the subject of several other lawsuits, as well as an arrest for drunk driving in 2014.
MXDC enters a new era on a 14th Street NW nightlife strip that’s lost a few Mexican options in recent years (El Centro D.F., Mexicue) but gained a big one in 2022 with the arrival of Mi Vida, which sits just two blocks north of its incoming cuisine competition.
MXDC is a partnership with the local hospitality group behind Dupont’s Le DeSales and U Street NW newcomer Baby Shank, both of which combine French food with sushi from the same chef behind Chinatown’s dearly missed Sei. Many employees worked together even before MXDC opened in 2012, having come from the old Panache Restaurant (now Le DeSales) across from the Mayflower Hotel. “We have such a great team, we want to keep that core team together,” a rep said.
The basement component is going to be a little different than MXDC upstairs, per the rep, while still playing off the Mexican-leaning brand. Flashy Alias, the 100-seat replacement to underground jazz club Sotto, debuted in spring 2022 with a dizzying count of Champagne options, out-of-the-box bottle service, masqueraded murals, and a short mezze menu. Alias’s B Social Hospitality, the prolific nightlife group behind Clarendon Ballroom, B Live, Coco B’s, the Lot, and the Cove, remains on board as a partner in the new MXDC project.
Danielle Koos from Koos Designs is performing a top-to-bottom interior makeover while retaining the building’s brick bones and wood-and-steel beams. Koos also worked with the team to flip Local 16 into stylish Baby Shank last year.
The high-profile space that once housed happy hour hotspot Ghibellina flipped into Dolce Vita in late 2021. The menu paid homage to owner Med Lahlou’s Mediterranean heritage, highlighting flavors from the four countries of Italy, Greece, Morocco, and Spain. Lahlou, who did not respond to a request for comment on its closure last year, continues to maintain a presence on the corridor with his Italian-themed Lupo Verde and Lupo Pizzeria.