Murray Hill is a destination for the diverse flavors of India, but until now it has lacked a youthful, vibrant hangout for something different in the neighborhood. Prolific young restaurateur Abishek Sharma has filled this gap with Tapa, a colorful cocktail and hookah lounge serving creative, globally inspired Indian tapas. It’s a place for young professionals and locals alike to unwind with friends in a relaxed, fun atmosphere and catch the latest games. He will be partnering up with his long time friends Sandeep Singh, Maneet Dhillion, and Amarjeet Singh.
Sharma has a history of giving NYC distinct Indian culinary experiences. His other restaurants include Swagat, a neighborhood bastion of Indian comfort food, Surya, the lauded West Village staple, and Badshah, his progressive hotspot in Hell’s Kitchen.
The vibe inside is relaxed and welcoming. A cocktail bar in front leads to the back den where a low ceiling, exposed brick walls, wraparound mirror and colorful lighting create a laid-back, cool atmosphere. A large graffiti mural on the inside wall depicts a man enjoying a hookah, and flat screen TVs play all the major games.
The food menu was created by Sharma, and is split into two sections: Tapas, and a “Bread Bar.” From the Tapas section, Badass Chicken Tikka is marinated in a house-blend of spices, yogurt and jalapenos for 24 hours before arriving moist and flavorful in a bite-sized lineup on the plate. Agni “Fire” Wings prepared hot, ‘want to cry?’ or butter chicken-style make for the perfect game day snack, ideally paired with an ice cold beer, and Masala Calamari, tossed with tangy Indian masala, is a welcomed riff on a staple. And because Tapa is a Sharma restaurant, guests will of course find Lala Ji’s Lamb Chops, a dish made famous by Abishek’s father Lala Sharma at the original Surya, composed of fork tender lamb chops lightly massaged with cardamom and clove masala.
Naan is a crowd-pleaser, and Tapa delivers with its extensive “Bread Bar,” complete with eight different varieties ranging from traditional to genre-bending. The Prime Time is an elevated example, topped with sliced prime cut rib-eye steak, cheddar, Monterey jack and mozzarella, served with smoky chipotle dipping sauce. Chicken Bacon Ranch naan is a mashup you won’t easily find elsewhere. For vegetarians, the Eat Your Veggies is a delicious option, layered with mushrooms, olives and truffle oil, topped with marinara or mint sauce.