With over 60 venues spanning five continents, Tao Group Hospitality boasts a colorful portfolio of properties — Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning nightclubs chief among them. New York City is home to nearly half of those properties, and you’d be hard pressed to find a New Yorker who hasn’t had a handful of memorable nights at at least one of them. PHD, LAVO and Marquee don’t exactly fall into the city’s “best kept secrets” category, after all, and Tao Downtown has remained one of the highest-grossing restaurants in New York since it opened in 2013, with an equally popular adjoining nightclub to match.
But nestled together on just one block in the East Village are three of Tao’s lesser known properties — The Ready Rooftop, Cathédrale and Little Sister — all of which successfully channel what it is that the brand does best, in different ways but all within just feet of each other. Design-forward venues paired with best-in-class cuisine, they’re all worthy of a trip on their own but, when combined, create a strong argument for a night out spent exclusively on 11th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenue.
“Every Tao Group Hospitality-operated venue at Moxy East Village is unique and curated in a way where you can spend all night on property and get a distinctive experience in every space,” says Senior Director of Marketing of Tao Group Hospitality Yvonne Najor. “Whether you are looking for afterwork cocktails and tacos with amazing views at The Ready Rooftop, a memorable meal at Cathédrale, or want to dance the night away at trendy hot spot Little Sister – Moxy East Village is your dynamic one-stop destination.”
We recently took a trip to the East Village to visit The Ready Rooftop, Cathédrale and Little Sister (followed by a stay at the attached hotel, The Moxy) to take stock of the offerings. We left with feeling many things — regret was not one of them.
Start the night with drinks at The Ready Rooftop
“Collegial yet refined,” The Ready Rooftop feels a bit like a New York City backyard on a rooftop, due in large part to its almost-chintzy decor (the bar is made entirely of plastic milk crates) and out-of-office vibe. But in reality, there’s nothing chintzy about The Ready.
The locale’s first-ever seasonal pop-up, the current “Palm Holiday” theme has reimagined The Ready into a tropical paradise, replete with colorful plants and palm trees, string lights, neon signs, lawn chairs and pink plastic flamingos galore. On the menu, you’ll find classic cocktails, frozen drinks (Tropical Holiday Frozen Hot Chocolate with an apple cider donut add-on, anyone?) and a variety of canned libations that can be combined to form a custom six-pack, served over ice in a cooler. Further the taco truck-style fare lends itself nicely to the theme, and serves as the perfect pre-dinner snack. (If you happen to make it to happy hour, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, tacos are just $1 and margaritas are $5.)
But while you might find yourself drinking a Spice Spicy Baby (an ingredient of which is a Tropical Red Bull) and sitting next to a Christmas tree built entirely of lawn flamingos, thanks to the retractable glass walls and roof, you’ll still be treated to year-round panoramic views of the East Village — a subtle (and welcome) reminder that it is all but a short reprieve from a not-so-tropical New York winter night. Fortunately, it need not be the last stop of your East Village tour de Tao.
Editor’s note: “Palm Holiday” at The Ready Rooftop has ended in anticipation of spring (so, alas, no more Frozen Hot Chocolate or Spice Spice Baby).
Followed by dinner at Cathédrale
After drinks and light bites at The Ready, it’s time for Executive Chef Jason Hall’s master class in classic French-Mediterranean cuisine with a twist — featuring a slew of ingredient-driven flavors learned from years of experience at establishments like Gotham Bar & Grill, Anthos, Craft and Legasea — at Cathédrale.
The current menu, which features an array of seasonal signature dishes, includes a must-try potato chip omelet with kaluga caviar and crème fraîche; lamb chops with romanesco cauliflower, mint, taggiasca and olive and fig tapenade; steak frites with 16oz of entrecôte au poivre escargot butter; Faroe Island salmon with couscous, salsa verde and cherry tomato vinaigrette; and — for dessert — apple beignets with spiced apple compote and calvados caramel sauce.
It’s exactly the sort of hearty, wholesome menu the ambience calls for. The dining room is truly something to behold, reminiscent of New York’s most classic spaces and designed by the Rockwell Group. It features 26-foot ceilings covered in a wire mesh sculpture — called Fillmore, by Edoardo Tresoldi — that’s meant to give the illusion of a grand domed ceiling. Further, there’s an all-season outdoor dining terrace with a retractable roof and a spacious bar area for a variety of dining experiences.
Round out the night at Little Sister
Tao’s underground lounge, Little Sister, is located just steps from Cathédrale and meant to channel the “heyday of the clandestine, cavern-like settings of East Village’s 1990s lounge scene.” Suffice to say — thanks to its sultry lighting, plush seating, vintage chandeliers and barrel-vaulted ceilings — it does just that.
Open just Thursday through Sunday starting at 11pm, Little Sister radiates exclusivity and in-the-know vibes. It’s sexy, intimate but, come 12:30am — or, rather, when the DJ takes the booth — it’s also the place to be.
Most of the specialty cocktails go for around $20 a pop, though — as The New York Times reported in 2019 — the drink menu also includes both a bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII that goes for $10,000, in addition to a glow-in-the-dark jeroboams of Dom Pérignon that goes for $7,600.
The one caveat — which you may have already guessed — is that it’s a pretty strict door, meaning a reservation is imperative. And if you’re traveling with a group? It’ll most definitely cost you.That said, once you’ve made it inside, you may find yourself in the company of the occasional celebrity (Drake has been spotted leaving Little Sister, but when we visited, it was a few of the new cast members of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot and Cindy Lauper’s son) or, at the very least, a new generation of party monsters paying homage to a bygone era.
Fortunately, when you’ve had enough of that, The Moxy is only a flight of stairs and a few doors away — ready to receive you after an undoubtedly well-spent night downtown.
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