MI VIDA Penn Quarter

KNEAD Hospitality + Design and //3877 collaborated to design the MI VIDA Penn Quarter location, incorporating Mexican culture and vibrant cuisine into the space, and adapting the concept to the existing architecture.

  • area / size 9,523 sqft
  • Year 2023
  • Type Restaurant,
  • This spring, KNEAD Hospitality + Design brings the third location of MI VIDA to the bustling heart of Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. The space, designed by KNEAD in collaboration with local multidisciplinary firm //3877, translates the brand’s expression of Mexican culture with a menu rooted in the history and tradition of Mexico’s vibrant and evolving cuisine. MI VIDA Penn Quarter offers iconic brand moments throughout that tie the experience back to the other locations, while curating a distinct sense of place by adapting the MI VIDA concept to the building’s existing architecture.

    Just a few steps away from the Capital One Arena and the National Portrait Gallery, MI VIDA activates the lively street corner with plentiful outdoor seating to accommodate 56 guests. Moving indoors, the dynamic interior provides 300 seats and accentuates the captivating views of the surrounding neighborhood. The moment guests walk through the door, they find themselves in a striking historic vestibule, complete with preserved intricate detailing and vaulted ceilings. Classic MI VIDA pink fins guide patrons inward, turning downwards to create a point of intrigue leading to the host stand.

    To the left, an expansive rectangular bar draws the eye with an original ceiling art installation by Caralarga featuring staggered woven textiles and painted beads sourced via art consultant Faulkner + Locke. Views from the bar include glances inside of the restaurant’s largest private dining room separated by a glass and iron window system. The room is accessible from the street, allowing high-profile diners to enter and exit through a private doorway. The private dining room can also provide an enhanced level of seclusion with an automated curtain system that can be closed to separate the space completely from the bar area. The room is multi-purposely designed; for smaller parties, it is divisible by stack walls that open and close through the center, and when not used for private events, the room is equipped for à la carte service.

    KNEAD Hospitality + Design and //3877 thoughtfully created immersive moments for diners around every corner, including a dramatic up-lit corridor to navigate guests towards the restrooms as well as another, more intimate private dining room. A mural depicting jungle foliage can be discovered on the ceiling, while the end of the hallway is marked by an attention-grabbing infinity mirror, creating the illusion of an everlasting corridor. Ahead, an elevated dining area is defined by blue booth seating with custom rose gold screens, enhancing the interesting sight lines from each seat. The back wall features a digitally-drawn mural from Brush Decor and printed by Astek, providing subtle changes of scenery and moments of discovery. Further into the space, dark-stained wood walls conceal service stations and anchor the rose gold screens, contributing to the efficiency of operations while complementing M VIDA’s signature design language.

    Past the wood walls, guests will find a smaller private dining room where a Bover Dome 180 pendant takes center stage––a signature design element present in every M VIDA location. The room also features beautiful street-facing views, including sights of the National Portrait Gallery, through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Heightened ceilings are accentuated by a mix of travertine and backlight punch-tin tiles embedded with colorful beads that are custom-made from a village in Mexico. Adjacent to the second private dining room, the Hacienda Room is framed by dramatic, backlit arches. The intriguing illuminations create depth that highlight the views from the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Outside of the Hacienda Room, additional seating can be found amongst lush accents of greenery from the interior planters. At the center of the room, an iconic MI VIDA Tree of Life takes root, spreading its canopy bejeweled in alebrije-inspired flowers throughout – an element KNEAD Hospitality + Design and //3877 used to create dynamic height movement in the space.

    The design experiments with materiality throughout the restaurant, incorporating unique textures and shapes to complement the vibrant MI VIDA color palette. The lighting design by FLUX Studio is sophisticated yet playful, utilizing light to contrast materials, such as polished pebble wall tile, creating depth and dimension throughout. Many design elements from previous MI VIDA locations were carried over to Penn Quarter, including lighting fixtures and the use of board form concrete––a technique that utilizes wooden boards to create a unique texture to the concrete.

    KNEAD Hospitality + Design, in collaboration with //3877, sought to establish MI VIDA’s Penn Quarter location as a lively hub of activity that is adaptable to accommodate any event. With a dynamic yet refined design language, the brand’s newest location marries sophistication and fun into a true embodiment of the MI VIDA experience.

    Design: //3877 and KNEAD Hospitality + Design
    Photography: Rey Lopez