Despite the distribution of a vaccine, COVID cases are still on the rise here in the states, and restrictions have been returned to a similar echelon as they were at the start of the pandemic. Certainly puts a damper on most people plans for a social life during the winter months, but there’s still plenty of reason to take part in outdoor dining, and a new restaurant in the East Village should be satisfying for those looking for a diverse menu and exotic presentation.
Originally intended to open earlier in 2020, Amigo by Nai’s didn’t officially welcome customers until October 1st. This was of course due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but fortunately the establishment has been able to see great success even with the new restrictions in place. “The business has been plentiful since the opening,” explains manager and beverage director Niko Hagerty. “We’re really excited to see how we do once the pandemic is more under control.”
A collaboration between two different minds in the food industry, the creation of Amigo by Nai sounds nothing less than fateful. Executive chef/owner Ruben Rodriguez’s previous venture was Nai Tapas, a tapas spot just a few blocks away from the space that would become Amigo by Nai.
By chance he came across a video of Juan “Billy” Acosta, the co-owner of the Los Angeles restaurant Carnitas El Momo, talking about his unique methods for making tacos as well as his Spanish heritage. This was enough to convince Ruben that Acosta was someone he wanted to work with, so he flew to L.A., met the man, and talked about what type of restaurant Amigo by Nai was going to be.
Upon approaching Amigo by Nai, the restaurant’s appearance is singular to say the least. It has a bright neon sign that reads “Amigo” hanging right above the entrance and a sense of décor that frankly gives off the mystique of some sort of mystical forest. Designed by Amy Mach, a fashion stylist and creative director for Tapas, the bar sports a brilliant green that plays off the neon display. In addition to the exterior sign, a projection of the bar’s menu is on the wall, indicating when certain items have ran out.
Featuring six exquisite and varied tacos, patrons have a simply delectable menu to choose from. This includes oxtail, shrimp and baby back rib choices, as well as vegetarian options like cauliflower. The dishes are eclectic, and are all equally prepared to perfection. Niko’s background as a mixologist (as well as his proclivity to travel the world) also supplies the menu with some of the most exotic cocktails you’ll find in Manhattan. Cheese in Bolivian brandy, seaweed drinks and apple brandy served with a cinnamon stick straw round out this ever vibrant menu.
As stated before, Amigo by Nai has successfully attracted a large degree of patrons, despite the spread of COVID, and its owners are only expecting this momentum to escalate in the coming months.
“We plan to open up other locations, and not just in New York,” Niko explains. “We also plan to expand on cuisine and our décor. We really want to make a unique setting.” Those looking for a place to get a fully gratifying meal, and a taste and aesthetic that feels exquisitely foreign, should look no further than Amigo by Nai.
More information about Amigo by Nai can be found here.