Outdoor dining in a jungle in the heart of the concrete jungle

SOHO, New York City -- Bringing the Tulum Jungle to the Concrete Jungle, GITANO NYC Garden of Love is a dramatic restaurant and mezcal bar set in a 24,000 square foot tropical garden in the heart of SoHo with a backdrop of the Freedom Tower and downtown NYC skyline.

At 76 Varick Street, step off the busy streets of Soho and into a magical jungle setting with your friends.

Of course, we had to check out the space for ourselves and see how this experience worked!

The restaurant and lounge seats up to 250 people on wood pergola dining decks, 25-foot coconut palms, a reflecting pond, and a meditation labyrinth.

Born just a couple of years ago as an all-outdoor, tropical oasis the Garden of Love launched in 2018 as a seasonal restaurant bringing upscale Tulum simplicity to chic New York.

No one could have guessed it would soon be the city's top spot for safe pandemic dining with an abundance of New York's most precious commodity: space.

Before you go, you should reserve a table through Gitano's website. Seating is limited and reservations book fast - especially on weekends - so definitely make your group a reservation.

Upon arrival, all guests have to sign in with the host to get their temperature checked and complete an online health screening. You can use your phone to scan a QR code so no need to fret about touching a pen or sign-in sheet.

Once checked in, the hosts will escort you to your seats. All team and guests must wear face masks at all times, but guests can remove their face mask once seated at their table.

Gitano reconfigured their floor plan - removing tables and chairs - to ensure that there are 6 feet between tables. There are also markers on the street at the entrance to keep guests waiting to come in 6 feet apart.

Gitano has implemented a new system allowing our guests to be completely self-dependent and order everything on their phone without any interaction with a server. Gitano's servers are still there to guide and support you if you need but the contact is reduced.

Executive Chef Antonio Maldonaldo was nice enough to greet us and serve us up some of his most popular dishes... everything was fantastic!

"All of the ingredients we use are such that you would find in Mexico," said Chef Maldonaldo. "I put in a little kick of ingredients from the United States too."

Some of their standout food includes King Crab tostada, chipotle albondigas, fresh watermelon salad, and the tuna tostada.

"The weather is the same pretty much all year," said Chef Maldonaldo. "So we get a lot of ingredients from there, so you can find some things that you don't normally find in New York."

We also got to try some of their signature cocktails - like the Jungle Fever, GITANO marg, and new 'Connie Girl'. $2.00 from every Connie Girl drink sold this season will be donated to Marsha P. Johnson Institute and Destination Tomorrow to support Black Trans Live Matter groups.

Some other perks was a new outdoor hand-washing station with three sinks so guests and team members can frequently wash their hands without even needing to go inside the bathroom. There are also sanitizing stations at key locations - including the host stand, bar, service bar, kitchen.

Gitano Garden of Love is open Monday - Wednesday (11am - 12am) and Thursday - Sunday (11am - 12pm).

Don't miss this incredible outdoor dining experience, open now through October!