A coastal Mexican oasis in the middle of Manhattan

By Bernard Shander

Over a decade ago, world-famous opera singer Placido Domingo decided to shutter the restaurant in Midtown Manhattan bearing his last name and remake it into something altogether different. Spanish cuisine wasn’t doing the trick, so he called upon Culinary Institute of America graduate and star chef Richard Sandoval to help him hone his vision.

The second coming of Domingo the restaurateur saw him sidestep the cuisine of his home country for the clean, refreshing food of coastal Mexico. Avocado, citrus, and numerous kinds of fish and seafood play prominent roles at Pampano, as do traditional Mexican staples of corn, rice, and beans—all favorites of the food-loving Spanish tenor. And with beachy white-on-white decor, palm trees painted on the walls, and margaritas and sangria flowing, Pampano quickly earned a reputation as an upscale oasis for city dwellers seeking an easy escape from the grind.

The guacamole here is a no-brainer, and the ceviche is out of this world. The shrimp ceviche comes in an unexpectedly mild habanero sauce with cilantro and red onion that’ll have you spooning up every last drop of golden goodness; the tuna ceviche, cut into delicate dice, is the surprisingly spicier option, with slices of smoky poblano and fresh ginger punctuating each bite.

After devouring all that cool ceviche, who can resist grilled octopus? Especially when it comes with black olive caramel, cactus (needles removed, of course!), queso fresco, tomato, and lemon vinaigrette, as it does here. Pair that with a glass of mango peach sangria, mixed from vino blanco, peach schnapps, and fresh pureed fruit, and you’ve got a flavor combination that radiates endless summer in this soon-to-be-frigid city.


Dinner: Mon–Fri 5 PM–9:30 PM; Sat–Sun 5:30 PM–9:30 PM
Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30 AM–2:30 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11:30 AM–4 PM

price range

$25 (grilled salmon) to $35 (beef tenderloin)