El Quijote, the charming Spanish restaurant on the ground floor of the Hotel Chelsea, is set to close on March 30th after nearly 90 years in NYC, a current staffer confirms.
Staffers at the historic restaurant, located at 226 West 23rd St. between Seventh and Eighth avenues, were given two weeks notice. Ownership allegedly told employees that the restaurant is being renovated and will re-open eventually. Eater NY has reached out to the restaurant for comment.
The closure is not a total surprise: Hotel Chelsea has been undergoing construction as it gets developed into a luxury hotel with condos, a plan that has been in the works since the property was sold to a group of hoteliers for $250 million in 2016.
Still, it’s an end of an era for El Quijote, which opened in 1930; after the closure of El Faro, it was the oldest surviving Spanish restaurant in the city. The legendary restaurant features a floor-to-ceiling mural of scenes from Don Quixote, the book that inspired the name. There are three dining rooms in the maze of a restaurant, which also has a series of strange oil paintings and carved Don Quixote figurines.
The restaurant, known for its paella and affordable Spanish fare, was acquired by Chelsea Hotels in 2014. Chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr — formerly of Balthazar, Pastis, and Minetta Tavern — were supposed to be brought in to revamp the menu, but that deal fell through. Eater critic Robert Sietsema visited the restaurant in 2015, praising El Quijote as more of a quaint relic than a destination for a perfect Spanish meal.
It’s one of several classic Spanish restaurants across the city, hailing from when immigrants congregated in Chelsea and formed what was once known as Little Spain. But it’s not the first to close. Francisco’s Centro Vasco on 23rd Street permanently closed in October, and though La Nacional on 14th Street had ambitions to reopen after its 2016 shutter, it has yet to do so.