From uptown to downtown and everywhere in between, the Tao Group has been gracing the New York restaurant scene with glamorous go-to’s for years. Whether it’s the swanky Asian ambiance at Tao Downtown, luxurious lounging at Lavo in Midtown, or a part pawn shop, part speakeasy restaurant on the Lower East Side, Beauty & Essex, Tao Group’s magic touch seems to turn everything to gold – and a definite happening hot spot.
And just when you think they’re done dousing you with fabulousness, Chef Chris Santos (Stanton Social) and the Tao boys combined forces to set up yet another Gotham gem with some serious street cred, Vandal.
Down on Bowery, this bi-level, 360-seat sexy, swanky and global street inspired space evokes a feeling of world class travel with a touch of “street cred” flair. Once operated by the EMM Group (a Tao rival), this spot formerly known as The General, was gutted and designed with no stone unturned (thanks Rockwell Group). Between the giant pink lacquered breakdancing bunny greeting you at the entrance, an etched stone wall depicting the face of our country’s first president, George Washington, framed funky street art from global communities, and a graffiti inspired wall painted by famed street artist, Apex, the décor alone is worth the visit.
And if you’re wondering where the name and idea stem from, per the restaurant’s website, “Hush, the renowned British street artist who created a series of murals in the Rockwell Group-designed TAO Downtown, worked closely with us to curate Vandal’s art program. In a nod to the Bowery’s history, seven internationally-recognized “vandals” have been commissioned to create site-specific installations inside and outside the restaurant. Using different mediums and techniques, the artists explore the possibilities of street art to create works that engage with Vandal’s built environment.”
When you’re over the awe and done taking a shitload of pictures of the place, focus on the menu – you’ll be just as inspired to go home and cook up a storm, as you will to buy your next plane ticket to an exotic destination. Chefs Chris Santos and Jonathan Kavourakis toured 14 countries in search of the best in street eats to add to the very robust Vandal menu. Things like Blackened Shrimp Arepa and Knish balls filled with pastrami, are just a few of the multitude of ridiculously delicious menu items.
Even if you’re not here for the fine fare, the beverage program here is so on point, you can’t just have one. Just think fresh and funky ingredients muddled and mixed into a glass of goodness (ie. The Sergeant Bellpepper is an absolute must…and tastes just like one!).
So whether you’re in for some dope dishes, sick street art, or just a cool cocktail at a fresh joint, head over to Vandal to set your cool factor into high gear. Who knows? You might even run into Usher like I did last night.