OCTOBER 2 0 2 1 I BOROMAG.COM 21
BY AMANDA SALAZAR
Photos by @greg_rhein Agave-chili roasted chicken, cochinita steamed buns,
ginger-soy salmon and rock vegetable tempura are
just some of the new options on the revamped dinner
menu of Astoria’s Tantra Lounge.
The popular restaurant and lounge, located at 35-
50 31st St., has rebranded itself from a Middle Eastern
themed club to a modern Latin-Asian fusion restaurant
with an upscale nightlife. This rebranding has included renovations
to the building itself, an updated menu, new décor and a
new cocktail program.
Tantra Lounge first opened its doors in July of
2005 as a Middle Eastern restaurant and nightclub,
which drew inspiration from manager Fernando
Lopez’s experiences with a diverse group
of friends and at diverse venues across the city.
Lopez explained that the goal was to “bring city
vibes to the area.”
“The reason for picking Astoria is we just love
that it’s a melting pot and you get all of the ethnicities
within reach,” Lopez told BORO in a phone interview.
“It’s nice to get everybody under the same roof to
enjoy that type of vibe.”
The lounge was also one of the first businesses in the area to
offer hookah because of a 2004 smoking law, Lopez said.
Since then, Tantra has decided to shift from positioning itself
as a nightclub to focusing more on cuisine. Additionally, Lopez
said that the lounge wanted to stay “in tune” with locals’
tastes and become more upscale. Hence came the decision to
rebrand the business and, along with that, its menu; the Latin-
Asian fusion was a way to reflect that western Queens is a melting
pot and blend multiple cultures together.
Tantra now features a whole new menu, created by executive
chef Gonzalo Colin. There is also an all-new craft cocktail
program, put together by beverage director Brandon Julian.
“I really think that that’s something that really sets us aside
from what we used to do before, which was just like your regular,
typical cocktails,” Lopez said. “Now, it’s just so elevated. Our
cocktail program is just unbelievable.”
The rebranding also came with a complete
remodel, including four new skylights, new
marble tables and raising the ceilings by about
three feet. Lopez describes it as an open feeling
space with a modern, chic look.
From 5 p.m. until 11 p.m., Tantra operates
as a restaurant, and then it transitions into a
lounge from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. The “late nights,”
as they’re called on the website, feature DJs, cocktails
and a strict dress code. No one under the age of 21 is allowed
into Tantra past 9 p.m.
“It’s a nice vibe,” Lopez said. “You don’t really get to see that
transition here in Queens. You’re either a restaurant or a club.”
Lopez mentioned that there’s currently a lot of construction
going on in the neighborhood, including new apartment buildings
being built, which he hopes gives Tantra the opportunity
to reach more community members.
He also went on to say that the goal is to be there for members
of the community when they come back after the pandemic
and to offer them a place to dine and have fun.
“Even though I haven’t lived in Astoria, it’s always been my
home as far as the nightlife and entertainment,” Lopez said.
FOOD + DRINKS
35-50 31ST ST., ASTORIA