It’s been 30 long years since José Andrés first set his sights on Washington’s Old Post Office building. Ever since he arrived in the city as a young man, the ambitious chef dreamt of welcoming diners to his own eatery within the historic building’s storied walls. Now, three decades later, he has finally fulfilled his goal with the launch of Bazaar by José Andrés.
Andrés came close to opening a restaurant here once before, back when the Old Post Office was operating as the Trump International Hotel in 2015. But the chef pulled out following the then-candidate’s disparaging comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants. Following a lengthy legal battle during which Trump sued Andrés and the latter counter-sued, the case was settled in 2017, with the chef remaining an outspoken critic of the disgraced president to this day.
When the Trump International Hotel shuttered its doors last year and Waldorf Astoria took over, Andrés had another shot at opening a restaurant at the Old Post Office. The new eatery – overlooking the glamorous lobby of the hotel – is a crowning moment in the chef’s decorated career and joins his burgeoning collection of eateries peppered throughout Washington D.C.
[See also: Restaurant Andrea Aprea Continues to Impress in Milan]
“This debut has been a long time in the making and marks a tremendous celebratory moment for the great city of Washington, my team, and me personally,” he said, following the opening. “It has been thirty years since I first came to D.C., and to have The Bazaar open in this beautiful, historic building that has always held a special place for me, is an American dream come true.”
Those that have been lucky enough to dine at any of the Bazaar outposts in Miami, Las Vegas or Chicago certainly won’t be disappointed; expect Andrés’s wonderfully playful creations, served with a touch of theatre.
Hailing from Spain, Andrés has the type of CV most chefs will only ever dream of. He enrolled in culinary school in Barcelona before carrying out a stint of compulsory military service during which he was assigned to cook for the admiral.
In the late 80s, he spent three years at the legendary El Bulli restaurant in Catalonia but was eventually fired on the spot for turning up late to a meeting with his then-boss and best friend, Ferran Adria.
At 21, Andrés moved to New York with just $50 in his pocket, securing a job at the popular Barcelona restaurant Eldorado Petit in Manhattan. He made the move to Washington D.C. to helm the kitchen at Jaleo (a new tapas restaurant) before finally striking out on his own to set up Minibar at Café Atlantico. The talented chef turned heads with his inventive avant-garde menu and the gourmet eatery has since scooped two Michelin stars.
Since then, Andrés has opened a slew of restaurants including The Bazaar, where he effortlessly merges cutting-edge molecular gastronomy cooking techniques with traditional Spanish tapas flavors.
At Andrés’s latest Bazaar outpost in Washington D.C., you’ll find his signature creative dishes rooted in the flavors of Spain, with a nod to the US (the menu is brimming with seafood sourced from Chesapeake Bay).
Diners are taken on a ‘sensory adventure’ with inventive dishes spanning everything from Beef Cheeks ‘Eisenhower Stew’ (a tribute to the former president’s favorite dish while he was in office) to ‘Philly Cheesesteak’ (slices of wagyu encased in pillowy airbread), foie gras wrapped in cotton candy and Andres’s take on a Waldorf salad.
Other stand-out dishes include seared Norwegian lobster in a brioche bun, succulent Spanish octopus with fried potato and chorizo, and addictive conch fritters dusted with bonito flakes and served with a dollop of onion jam.
Spanish firm Lázaro Rosa-Violán was brought in to craft the stunning interiors. Stop for a pre-dinner drink at the gorgeous emerald-green bar before heading upstairs.
The restaurant itself is the perfect setting to enjoy the whimsical menu; black marble-topped tables are surrounded by sumptuous velvet chairs, while custom floral fabrics inspired by Salvador Dalí line the walls and lush green plants spring from every corner.