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Photo of Arrels and Cranes chef Pepe Moncayo from Leading DC.

At Cranes in Penn Quarter, chef Pepe Moncayo blends Spanish and Japanese cuisine in his tapas and omakase menus. But in his next restaurant, the Barcelona native is focusing on his Spanish roots. Arrels – which means “roots” in Catalan – will bring modern takes on classic dishes to the new Arlo hotel near Judiciary Square this fall.

“I want to think back to the beginning of my career,” says Moncayo, who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain before opening restaurants in Singapore and then Washington DC. “I’m a modern chef and I don’t plan to create very rustic, old-fashioned menus, but rather something modern but building on tradition.”

Moncayo’s cooking at Arrels revolves around a charcoal grill and an oven. The menu is still evolving, but expect grilled whole fish, a tomahawk steak, grilled vegetables and several rice and paella dishes with a smoky finish from the oven. Just one example: Moncayo plans to add some finesse to his mother’s artichoke and rabbit paella by cooking the rabbit sous-vide, then finishing it on the grill and adding a splash of acid from preserved lemons. The meal will be served with gin and tonics and sangria.

Due to its location in the hotel, Arrels will be open for breakfast and will offer dishes such as sourdough toast with grated garlic and tomatoes, topped with Spanish omelette and Jamón Ibérico. “For me, this is The “Breakfast,” says Moncayo.

The 120-seat dining room will be designed in the style of a modern Spanish farmhouse with a courtyard. Moncayo was inspired by his mentor, the late Spanish chef Santi Santamaria, whose three-Michelin-starred restaurant El Racó de Can Fabes was built on farmland where his family had lived for more than 200 years. “That’s the whole design of the restaurant: combining tradition and modernity, but without being pretentious,” says Moncayo.

Moncayo is also head chef for the entire Arlo Hotel and will create menus for a healthy grab-and-go cafe and a rooftop bar.

Arrels at the Arlo Hotel. 333 G St., NW.

Jessica SidmanJessica Sidman

Food Editor

Jessica Sidman reports on the people and trends behind DC’s food and drink scene. Before she Washingtonian In July 2016, she was the Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

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