3241 M St. NW, formerly Hook Restaurant
From a press release:
On May 24, Chef Mike Isabella will open Bandolero in the heart of Georgetown (3241 M St. NW). The modern Mexican small-plates concept, a loud, dark, Day of the Dead-inspired retreat, is Chef Isabella’s second restaurant in the District of Columbia.
“When I go out for Mexican food, I want lots of tacos and strong margaritas. Bandolero will have a wide selection of both,” said Chef/Partner, Mike Isabella. “We call it modern Mexican cuisine because we take classic dishes and spin the flavor profiles. You will find tacos filled with octopus, crab meat or raw tuna, nachos topped with goat and salsa made with pumpkin seeds and garnished with fresh fruit.”
Like Chef Isabella’s first restaurant, Graffiato, Bandolero is a small-plates concept where dishes are meant to be shared. A few dishes not to be missed include the suckling pig taco with apple and habanero mustard, lamb sopes, the “fish stick taco” made from mahi mahi crusted in crushed tortilla chips, and a Mayan pumpkin seed dip called sikil pak. The menu features dips served with housemade chicharones and masa crisps, tacos, taquitos, enchiladas, empanadas, and albondigas.
While most of the menu is centered around small plates, a section of carbons – Bandolero’s spin on a fajita – offers a choice of Kobe beef, chicken or Yucatan-style shrimp, served with vegetables, toppings, and tortillas for the table to assemble and share.
The Bandolero cocktail list is heavy on tequila and mezcal. In addition to margaritas of all flavors, frozen and on the rocks, head mixologist Sam Babcock remakes classic cocktails with these native-Mexican spirits. For example, the Anejo Manhattan replaces bourbon with anejo tequila and the Mexican Sling substitutes blanco tequila for gin. El Bandolero, the restaurant’s signature margarita on tap, and Frozen, the bright prickly pear margarita are soon to be Bandolero classics.
The beverage list will also feature canned, bottled and draft beer, as well as wines and Prosecco on tap, made popular by Graffiato in 2011.
The two-level, 5,000 square foot space features myriad antique fixtures, rich copper, and warm wood accents. Bethesda architecture and design firm, Streetsense, built on Chef Isabella’s creative vision, drawing inspiration from the Mexican holiday, “Day of the Dead” and using a combination of loud, dark and cold elements to create a distinctive atmosphere.
The backdrop of the bar is LED-illuminated with yellow tile and mounted crates to hold bottles of spirits. Original copper, uncovered below layers of millwork during renovations, was reclaimed and now adorns the front of the expansive bar. Reclaimed metal gates and animal skulls bring the dark motif to life, and painted black walls are accented by mismatched tables, chairs and sofas. As in Graffiato, the wooden tables were handcrafted in Pennsylvania by Chef Isabella’s father-in-law, Charlie Nemeth.
Bandolero is comprised of two diverse levels. The first floor seats more than 100, including a loud, edgy 18-seat bar front, 20 seats for bar dining, and 10 seats at a cozy chef’s table adjacent to the open kitchen. The second floor seats 68, including a large communal table facing a picture window that overlooks M Street.