After more than a decade, Portuguese-influenced fine dining restaurant Aldea is closing its doors later this month. Chef George Mendes — whose sophisticated restaurant has maintained a Michelin star for years — announced in an email to customers that February 22 would be the last night of service at 31 W. 17th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. He plans to “take a break, recharge creatively, and refocus,” he writes in the letter.
Mendes opened Aldea in 2009, a solo project after working for years in San Sebastian, Spain at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant. The restaurant, which pulls from both Mendes’s Portuguese heritage and the Iberian Peninsula for artfully composed dishes, put the chef on the map. Shortly after, he collected a range of accolades — with Aldea landing on lots of best new restaurant lists and gaining two-stars in the New York Times. Aldea, one of the only modern Spanish-Portuguese spots in the city, has also maintained a Michelin star since 2010.
Over time, Aldea was known for its consistency as a place for an elegant fine dining meal with creative touches. Its success led to a second restaurant for Mendes, the more casual Lupulo. That well-liked Portuguese restaurant closed at the end of 2017 after the end of its lease.
Aldea’s closure will leave Mendes without a restaurant, but it’s unlikely that things will stay that way for long. Word is that he’s already in talks for other projects.
Eater has asked Mendes for further info on what’s next. Stay tuned.