Gensler’s new office building Signal House is flashier than one might expect from the buttoned-up capital. El Presidente, a new restaurant anchored inside it, doesn’t shy away from the maximalism. James Beard Award–winning Stephen Starr pays tribute to Mexico City in his massive, 6,000-square-foot Union Market District restaurant, with a sense of theater that extends to the menu’s Grand Seafood Tower and Prime Tomahawk Redeye with guajillo demi-glace. The beverage program’s agave-forward tequila and mezcal cocktails, like Put Me In, Coach’s mix of tequila blanco and blue glacier gatorade, only heighten the intoxication.
AvroKO have devised a suitably theatrical environs for Starr’s more-is-more menu. A trio of dining rooms are inflected with Deco flavor, while the 60-seat patio is sure to buzz all year long. Annelisa Leinbach painted the 33-foot mountainscape mural that wraps around scarlet velvet seating and banquettes like a cinemascope screen. But the bar is its true heart: the red-and-pistachio palette was inspired by Mexican social clubs, and is topped by its Silver Hill Arts diorama with views of tropical landscapes, at once underwater and overhead.