Award-winning D.C. chef and restaurateur Victor Albisu has opened his hotly anticipated D.C. restaurant Poca Madre, his high-end, contemporary Mexican restaurant adjacent to the Chinatown location of his wildly popular taqueria, Taco Bamba.
While Taco Bamba Chinatown delivers on the big menu, no-frills, rock & roll ambience that earned the Northern Virginia suburban locations cult status, Poca Madre is a juxtaposition in form and function. The elevated design, from the garden patio to the intimately lit dining room, complement a polished menu and mezcal-driven bar program unlike anything else diners will find in D.C.
PHOTO: Poca Madre's bar
“There’s so much more to Mexican cooking than what we typically see in the States,” Albisu said. “Some of the discoveries we made in Mexico while on research trips, first for Taco Bamba and later Poca Madre, just blew me away. I had to find a way to bring those flavors back to D.C. From centuries-old palenques in Oaxaca to chic, contemporary fine dining in Mexico City, there is so much going on that’s worth the spotlight, and I’m doing my part to shine on it.”
PHOTO: Poca Madre's lobster
Albisu has conceived a menu that is all about the details, like tortillas made from scratch with nixtamalized masa hand-ground on a traditional metate. After numerous trips to Mexico exploring classic and modern-day cooking, Albisu and his team began procuring rare ingredients, like heirloom Mexican corn, Pasilla de Oaxaca chilies and directly sourced (not canned) huitlacoche. These ingredients translate to dishes like sweetbreads Veracruzana, Long Island duck al pastor and a risotto made with corn husk stock and laced with huitlacoche. Other examples of Poca Madre’s contemporary-traditional alchemy include a dish of crispy octopus served with a mole blanco and ink pepper jam, as well as a black cod aguachile with green tomato dressed with avocado-yuzu.
PHOTO: Poca Madre's Husitquites
The drinks list, created by beverage director Amin Seddiq and service director Michael Iglesias, includes a tightly focused selection of New and Old World wines alongside an ambitious, modern-leaning cocktail menu with a strong emphasis on agave spirits. Diners congregating at the agave bar will be witness to bartenders working with liquid nitrogen in the creation of the Ziggy Stardust Margarita, a classic cocktail disguised as a frozen dessert. Seddiq and Iglesias play with tropical favorites in beverages like the Wizard of Oax, a take on a Mai Tai that pairs Mezcal Vago Madre Cuixe and Oaxacan rum with an orgeat syrup made from cantaloupe seeds, as well as the Chapo on the Beach, which turns a traditional piña colada into something extraordinary with Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal, Hamilton 12-year rum and pineapple canela gum. The Apaga la Luz sees La Union mezcal, Siembre Valles tequila and xtabentún, an ancient Mayan liqueur, served with a sphere of celery ice and lightly smoked with a mix of applewood and star anise.