The D.C. restaurant that’s most overdue for a facelift? My vote goes to the original Jaleo in Penn Quarter. And it appears I’m not alone in that assessment. Visionary chef Jose Andres yesterday announced plans to transform his tired-looking tapas bar into a destination representative of modern Spain.
“We have been nearly 20 years in Penn Quarter,” the chef e-mailed from Los Angeles, where he taped Tuesday’s “Conan” show on TBS. “So much has changed around us. Jaleo remains our heart in DC. And we want to put Jaleo on the path for the next 20 years.”
Details are still being finessed, but Andres is considering closing the restaurant after Restaurant Week in late January for about two weeks. A preview of the draft design and interviews with insiders reveal a blend of playfulness and chic, a room dressed with a foosball table and outsize photographs as well as orange and yellow tiles over the bar and see-through beaded curtains separating the booths.
The makeover will give the Washington venue some of the pizazz of the Jaleo in Sin City, which came from Andres’s “great friend,” architect Juli Capella of Barcelona. “I’m very happy with how Jaleo in Las Vegas came together,” writes Andres. “Here he will be working with us again. There may be some similar items but this will be a new unique look for Jaleo. We are moving away from the Flamenco dancer and more to a Dali-like, modern, provocative look.”
The menu is expected to be massaged, too. “We are looking at some new dishes, new drinks,” grounded in “authentic flavors and ingredients,” writes the top chef.