Spanning 70 seats in Manhattan’s West Village, the laidback Mexican concept Tavo draws its name from Miami slang. Referencing the nickname of owner Francisco Decrescenzo’s grandfather, Tavo is simple yet exotic, reflecting the New York location’s energy as well as Decrescenzo’s native Monterrey, Mexico.
“Tavo aims to appeal to a young-at-heart, late night crowd, without being trendy or exclusive,” says Cece Stelljes, partner at local studio Revamp Interior Design, who infused the restaurant with accessible, modern qualities. “Our goal was to create an atmosphere that’s warm, inviting, sophisticated, and sexy—particularly late at night.”
Once a former Chinese restaurant, the spot sat vacant for the last eight years and was ready for a facelift. Indeed, the neutral interior palette provided an optimal backdrop for chef Julieta Ballesteros’ buzzworthy cuisine. Earthy taupes reference the idyllic mountains of Monterrey, while copper tones were chosen to highlight the fruit of the mountains’ mines. Green accents that recall nature and vegetation add color to the austere dining room.
The back bar’s rippling design was inspired by the mountains of the Mexican locale, abstracted and simplified into waves t0 contrast with the bar, which is topped with a burnished copper coating in matte resin. The dining room’s back wall also captures the romantic mountain landscape with a topographical abstraction. “The 3D-sculptural element is positioned as the focal point at the back of the space, centered on the view from the entry area and host stand,” Stelljes explains.
Continuous built-in seating distinguishes the bar and dining areas while also allowing for a seamless visual connection. Banquettes are dressed in linen-like fabrics and faux leather for a residential effect, while chairs were chosen for their clean lines, another nod to the mountain motif. Ambient lighting via simple ceiling fixtures highlights the simple white oak floors and tambour cladding featured on the bar face and ceiling canopy. Stelljes notes that “the light gets warmer as it dims.”
Tucked away in the basement, the private dining room comes alive with jungle wallpaper, green velvet curtains, and a pink neon sign reading “This never happened.” “Given that it’s a hidden space, we designed it to be a bit different: a delightful surprise,” Stelljes notes. The sign, she adds, “is a cheeky nod to the fact that it’s a speakeasy room and not really supposed to exist.”
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