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Grabbing a blood orange margarita at Oyamel will soon require a little less elbowing toward the bar. José Andrés‘ mod-Mex Penn Quarter restaurant opens its expanded bar and dining room this Thursday. (UPDATE: The opening has been pushed back to Friday.)
The new space, designed by Georgetown-based architecture and design firm Hapstak and Demetriou, adds 42 additional seats, including five booths, 18 bar stools, a small lounge area, and a dining nook for a larger party. Butterflies are a major component of the design. (Oyamel’s namesake is the Oaxaca forest where Monarch butterflies flock.) The colorful creatures adorn the blue walls, fluttering around a blown-up image of local model Julie Zeger. White butterfly cutouts also hang above the wraparound bar.
Bar tables are made to look like logs, and sofas designed by Amtrend are striped with bright colors. Holographic video projections of Mexico City street scenes will flash on the sheer partitions between the booths.
Oyamel’s food and drink menus will remain the same for now, but new happy hour specials are in the works. This fall, Think Food Group’s beverage director (and expert ice carver) Juan Coronado plans to introduce a revamped cocktail list. He’s also in the process of growing Oyamel’s mezcal collection. The restaurant currently has about 90 tequilas and 30 mezcals, but it plans to eventually make the mezcal collection as extensive as the tequila list. Oyamel already has a tequila certification from the Mexican government. Now that mezcal is becoming more popular, some of Oyamel’s bar staff have been going through a similar mezcal training program.
Photos by Jessica Sidman