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Last year, Mike Isabella got a tattoo of a brass-knuckled pizza cutter on his forearm to commemorate the opening of Graffiato. In honor of his new mod-Mex spot Bandolero, the chef is getting some ink of a bandolero. The Mexican cowboy tattoo even matches the restaurant’s Day of the Dead theme.
In a way, Isabella has his tattoos to thank for Bandolero happening in the first place. He was headed to Jinx Proof Tattoo in Georgetown to work on a Tahitian warrior tattoo on his leg last year when he ran into the building’s owner, Jonathan Umbel, on M Street. Umbel previously ran Hook seafood restaurant in the space, but it closed after a fire last summer. He was looking for a new tenant and invited Isabella in to check it out. Isabella entered into a partnership with Umbel not long after.
(Correction: Due to a reporting error, this post originally said Isabella had signed a lease not long after. He actually partnered with Umbel, whose company Pure Hospitality still holds the lease on the space.)
Photos by Jessica Sidman