Laura Hayes

The owners of Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana, which opens the week of Feb. 5 in the former Bar Civita space, are prioritizing fun. Think buckets of beer, frozen margaritas, bottomless sangria at brunch, and possibly mariachi bands. “It’s something I think the neighborhood really needed,” says executive chef and co-owner Miguel Pizarosso. “Some diversity in Woodley Park; something fun, festive, and casual,” he explains.  

His business partner, Jawad Saadaoui, calls Mayahuel a family-friendly neighborhood Mexican restaurant that’s “very comfortable, very casual with great food and warm service.” It’s named after the female divinity of the agave plant. 

The partners also own District Kitchen around the corner and first met working at Redwood Restaurant and Bar in Bethesda.

Pizarosso is from Bolivia but has always wanted to cook Mexican cuisine. His menu will not pull from one specific region of the country, but seafood will be a focus. Expect everything from tacos and nachos to short ribs mole, a whole fish with red and green chile sauces, tostadas, ceviche, and grilled octopus.

Bartender Fabian Malone is consulting on the drink menu that includes a slate of original cocktails in addition to flavored and frozen margaritas. The “Mayahuels 400 Conejos Felices” combines mezcal, Cocchi di Torino, house-made cashew orgeat, pineapple juice, fresh lime, coconut milk, and Xocolatl bitters. A cocktail called the “Ramo de Sudamérica” is made with rum, lime juice, hibiscus, ginger, peppercorn syrup, egg white, and Angostura bitters.

Bar Civita regulars won’t recognize the space. It’s splashed with color and appointed with Day of the Dead calaveras. TV personality Yvette Irene designed the space. She’s appeared on HGTV, Food Network, and DIY Network.

Saadaoui says the restaurant should open to the public Feb. 7 or 8. Mayahuel will start by serving dinner, with brunch and lunch to follow in the coming months. The hours of operation will be Mondays-Fridays from 5-10 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays 5-11 p.m.; and Sundays from 5-9 p.m. The bar will stay open later than the dining room.

Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana, 2609 24th St. NW; mayahueldc.com