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Serge Becker is bringing a little bit of London to New York — well, sort of.

The nightlife guru, behind New York boîtes such as Joe’s Pub, Area, The Box, Miss Lilly’s and La Esquina, is now adding Bodega Negra to his arsenal. The restaurant, which opens Tuesday at Dream Downtown, is an offshoot of the popular London-based eatery La Bodega Negra.

This story first appeared in the January 31, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Like its British cousin, Bodega will serve upscale Mexican fare created by executive chef Michael Armstrong. Signature dishes include jicama slices with guacamole; soft shell crab tacos; Mexican street corn; four-cheese, open-face quesadillas, and a whole suckling pig, which is available for pre-order.

“It’s not only about the food. It’s also about the whole vibe, the design and the concept,” Armstrong said. “We have the opportunity to offer a different dining experience here.”

What the chef is referring to is the space. Owned and designed by Becker, Tao/Strategic Group and U.K. restaurant operator Will Ricker and entrepreneur Ed Spencer, the moodily lit 108-seat restaurant is cavernous, yet intimate. Calling the decor Tudor Hacienda for its mélange of timber framing on the walls, arches and repurposed mariachi uniforms, Becker has set out to create a “poetic” atmosphere. From the enormous disco ball covered in nearly 10,000 pennies that hangs over the dining room to the wall of antique tequila barrels and the deconstructed pianos that hang over the 12-seat bar, Bodega is a feast for the eyes.

“The general idea was to make it very cozy and comfortable,” the owner and designer said. “I thought if you layer a lot of quirky personal touches into it, you don’t even need to explain them. They have a kind of humor to them — it gives a very lived-in environment.”

Bodega Negra
355 West 16th Street, New York
Monday to Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to late.

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