In a summer already packed with major openings all over the city, there’s no more hotly anticipated arrival than Gitano NYC, the lush Mexican jungle bar that’s sprung up in an empty Soho lot.
An offshoot of Gitano, the buzzy outdoor bar in Mexico’s stylish tourist haven Tulum, Gitano NYC has planted an entire forest of palm trees and a whole lot of style throughout the 24,000-square-foot lot at 76 Varick St.
A simple but dramatic entrance leads you into the tropical garden that is Gitano NYC, divided from the reality of Downtown Manhattan by a wall of greenery. Large canopies shade the large square bar at the heart of the oasis — a disco ball hangs in the center, just as it does in Tulum — plus two wooden decks to either side with plenty of table seating.
Or just perch on one of the many cushioned wooden benches, then wander to the back area and sip your drink by the reflecting pool to the sounds of jungle house beats rustling the trees. Partiers will have to look elsewhere, as there will be no DJs or dancing in consideration to the neighborhood.
The short menu of five cocktails (three mezcal and one each of tequila and vodka) is accompanied by light bites just as stylish as the setting. Don’t skip them — the menu was co-created by chef Mads Refslund, who’s put in time at Noma and Acme, and includes fluke ceviche with lychee and cucumber and chicken tinga that smolders on fresh sopes made in the totally open on-site grill and wood-burning oven.
Besides the bar and restaurant, the Gitano NYC compound also includes an Intelligentsia cafe, a meditation “labyrinth” with rock sculptures, and even its own vegetable garden. With a two-year lease, Gitano will remain open until the end of October then return in May 2019 for one more season.
Summer 2018 has already been very good to New York, with tons of new destinations for cocktails and frozen treats. Rooftop bar lovers have the James Beard-nominated Miami import Broken Shaker, a longtime tiki fanatic finally got to open his dream bar The Polynesian, and there’s a whole new genre of ice cream to discover at the Republic of Booza.
Gitano NYC is open for lunch Mon-Fri 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner Sun-Wed from 5-11 p.m. and Thurs-Sat 5 p.m.-midnight, and brunch Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are available through OpenTable.