A taste of Tulum has landed in Midtown East, offering Mexican seafood and a sensory trip to the tropics. Tán is a collaboration between chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval, known for Manhattan hot spots like the recently opened Jalao, and chef Jonatán Gómez Luna Torres of Cancun’s acclaimed Le Chique restaurant. Sandoval drew inspiration for Tán from his first Mexican NYC restaurant, Maya, which focused on traditional Latin flavors paired with innovative cooking techniques.
“Escapism and sharing cultural experiences through food are some of the things we sought to create with Tán,” Sandoval says. “These details are often rooted in sensory moments like sound, nuanced lighting, specific aromas, textures, and authentic design materials that should all feel transportive.”
At Tán, Gómez Luna and Sandoval are showcasing the best of the Yucatán coast, pairing Midtown sophistication with the liveliness associated with Tulum. This is Gómez Luna’s first NYC restaurant, and he’s ready to dazzle diners with fresh ingredients, many sourced from the very coast that drives Tán’s menu selection.
Small plates inspired by Sandoval and Gomez Luna’s travels and heritages are the focus at Tán. Beloved dishes like guacamole are taken up a notch with additions such as chapulines (cooked grasshoppers) and pork belly.
Highlights among the seafood dishes include jumbo prawns prepared in a spicy a la diabla sauce; a red snapper ceviche featuring onion, tomato, and cilantro; and adobo-marinated octopus that’s served alongside a creamy garlic purée.
Sandoval’s favorite dish, though, is the lobster tacos. It’s a recipe he’s perfected over 20 years, featuring a balance of what he describes as the “rich and light” flavors of a black bean purée, a sauce made with chile de àrbol, and chopped avocados. A black mole studded with sesame seeds and featuring beef tenderloin comes in a close second for Sandoval.
The desserts here also embrace the restaurant’s decadent spirit. A standout is the yellow corn cake that’s paired with caramelized popcorn, a splash of the eggnog-like Mexican drink rompope, and dulce de leche ice cream.
Agave-centric cocktails will dominate the drinks menu when it’s up and running; the restaurant is currently awaiting its liquor license. Signature drinks like the Mayan Manhattan and a La Brisas del Océano will feature ingredients like tortilla ash and oyster-stuffed olives that are prepared in the kitchen before making their way to the bar. Tán will also serve a wide range of Mexican beers, margaritas, wine, and spirits. For now, diners can choose from a selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including a spicy watermelon agua fresca and a refreshing strawberry basil cooler.
Much like the food and drink, Sandoval and Gómez Luna wanted to recreate the lush, beachside dining environment in Tulum. They tapped designer Peter Bowden of PeterMax Co. to bring that feeling to Midtown, while incorporating a little bit of Manhattan into the 139-seat space.
An expansive skylight fills the restaurant with natural light and enhances the warmth of the walnut wood tables and columns. A series of hand-woven panels, made with a stiff fiber that comes from the sisal plant native to southern Mexican, are attached to the glass ceiling for a dappled light effect that evokes the feeling of sitting under trees at the beach.
“We based the aesthetic on a simple, muted earthy material palette commonly found in the Yucatán region,” Sandoval says.
Tucked away downstairs is Lúm, Tán’s 45-seat speakeasy that seeks to bring the spirit of Tulum to life with cave-like ceilings and warm candlelight. It’s a more moody and intimate version of the dining area upstairs and will have a yet-to-be finalized cocktail menu with the option to order all of the food available upstairs.
Tán is open Sunday to Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 pm to 11 pm. The restaurant can accommodate private functions, handled through its events team.
Ameena Walker is an NYC writer and editor covering architecture, food, design, real estate, and culture.