A New Lounge Where Sake and Cachaça Drinkers Can Mix


The seductive leopard prints, tall bamboo stems, and low-hanging lamps at Vela, a new Brazilian-Japanese restaurant-lounge in the Flatiron district, transport imbibers to some sexy island where language and culture are as free-flowing as the waterfall at the entrance. Before being whisked off, you’ll first have to make the cut—a velvet rope is all that stands between you and this haute paradise. Once inside, get cozy on one of the soft leather banquettes throughout and order a Soltini ($12), a deceptively intoxicating mix of coconut rum, mango puree, and fresh pineapple juice, or a Budhini ($12), a zensational combination of muddled mint and cucumber with Level Vodka and a touch of lemon-lime soda, from the summer drinks menu. These luscious libations go down best when paired with some of the fusion eats on offer, like the rolls of tuna tartare with yummy grilled mango. After 11:30 p.m. hydraulic dinner tables magically lower to cocktail height and a DJ starts spinning for the mostly fashionista crowd. Ready to samba?