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New: Boqueria Fills Niche for Post-Work Downtown Crowd

The first D.C. outpost of Boqueria — a tapas bar and restaurant with several New York City locations — officially opened its doors at the corner of 19th and M streets NW last Thursday. Inspired by Barcelona’s Boqueria Market and the surrounding tapas bars, the eatery pairs Spanish small plates with a wine-centric beverage menu that includes three delicious takes on sangria.

You might not notice Boqueria at first (the space formerly occupied by Penang still has a “for lease” sign out front) but the second-level, light-filled restaurant and bar is a welcome addition to a downtown drinking scene otherwise dominated by cheap swill and overpriced steak joint martinis. Consider this your new post-work drink destination; an interesting selection of cavas and Spanish wines provide an antidote to a frenzied day, while the bite-sized menu options — the bacon-wrapped dates and patatas bravas are especially good — are perfect for sharing with coworkers.

The bar provides the centerpiece of the wood-paneled restaurant, placed as it is squarely in the middle of the room. The focus here is on vino, 98% of which is from Spain. Don’t miss the txakoli, a hard-to-find, slightly sparkling white typically poured with much fanfare from a height. There are also three beers on tap, which currently include Estrella, a light Spanish brew, as well as locally produced Optimal Wit (a Port City pour) and DC Brau's Citizen Pale Ale.

Our favorite libation is the white sangria. Made with rum, it’s the most traditional of the three offerings, which also include a rose version made with tequila and a red version made with gin (“it sounds crazy, but it actually works,” said one bartender). Beer sangria may be offered in the future as well.   

Much of the cocktail program is still in development right now — it’s not yet decided whether the bar will offer happy hour specials, for example — but the owners plan to tailor the menu to the clientele based on what they observe in the coming weeks. With its sidewalk sitting area and choice location (not to mention absolutely addicting churros dipped in chocolate), we predict Boqueria will quickly become a favorite destination of the downtown set.

1837 M St. NW; 202-558-9545

Photos by Lauren Sloat

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