Earlier this week we lamented that you can’t ride a mechanical bull in these parts without first riding the PATH train. That’s fixin’ to change tomorrow, when subterranean Tex-Mex spot Johnny Utah’s opens with a $25,000 mechanical bull front-and-center in a seventeen-foot-diameter ring (the law requires eight feet on each side). The beast, which will have nonfunctional “grazing” and functional “running-of-the-bulls” hours, was custom-built and trucked in from Idaho by a cowboy-writer named Cody, who the owners (also involved in Gin Lane) say is “the bull guy” (visit mechanicalbulls.com if you want your own). “Our mechanical bull is our mascot,” says Bobby Rossi (the mascot, by the way, costs $10,000 per year to insure). “We’re not an adult Chuck E. Cheese.”
To back that up, Rossi mentions a 1,200-pound Southern Pride smoker that runs 24 hours and will be helmed by exec chef Marlon Manty, formerly of Mesa Grill and Blue Smoke, and his former companion at Blue Smoke, Jeffrey Held. They’ll be turning out items like beer-braised pork belly, Texas brisket with redeye gravy, and smoked pork spareribs. The bar, meanwhile, will showcase a sizable selection of tequilas, the finest of which will go into a $51 “ultrapremium” margarita. There is a private dining room in a former bank vault, but we imagine the choice seats will be facing the bull (photographed here during construction, awaiting its canvas slipcover). We can only hope the operator goes especially hard on the tourists.
Johnny Utah's, 25 W. 51st St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-265-8824.
Johnny Utah’s Menu