As you're escorted to your table at Vandal, you come face-to-face with a giant purple breakdancing bunny. His name is Henry, and he's just the first of many jaw-dropping pieces of art that greet you as you walk through the cavernous space. The restaurant is gorgeous and filled with custom murals by world-renowned street artists like Shepard Fairey, Hush, and Vhils, who literally carved portraits into the back dining room's cement walls. And even though the menu draws inspiration from street food around the world, you never forget you're in New York City; after all, graffiti artist Apex spray painted all of the lyrics to Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" on the walls around the staircase, leading to the lounge below.
That love of art and the energy of downtown Manhattan oozes through Vandal, and even works its way onto the plate—especially with the New York hot pretzel with steak tartare. Vandal's executive chef Jonathan Kavourakis was inspired to make an upscale version of a classic street pretzel after eating one on his way home from a New York Mets game at Citi Field in Queens. "I was thinking to myself, 'How do I refine this? How do I make a pretzel for Vandal? How do I make a pretzel for our New York City guests."
The answer was raw meat, of course. American Kobe beef, to be specific, and whether you're a native New Yorker, or just in town for the night, you certainly won't be disappointed by this high-end take on a street food classic.