When Lindsay Mendez moved back to the Upper West Side about three years ago, she was walking around looking for a place to eat with her then-boyfriend one evening. Although she lived in the neighborhood when she first moved to New York, she hadn’t been back in a while, and the two of them walked by Tessa, an upscale Mediterranean tavern that had just opened.
“We died over how good the food was and just how beautiful the restaurant was,” says Mendez. “It just feels like you’re out of New York for a second, and it’s just very beautiful in here. We had an amazing experience. And then we decided that this would become our Sunday night place, and we would come here every Sunday, so they all got sick of seeing me.”
If the staff is sick of Mendez on this Friday afternoon, it certainly doesn’t show as she smiles and they couldn’t be happier to host her. She sits sipping a vieux carre in the back area, as light spills in among the exposed brick walls and rustic wood tables. Though, it’s been a little while since she’s been back, as she and her now-husband can’t make it on Sunday nights anymore, as Mendez is starring in Significant Other and has shows that night.
“I love the play so much and I love getting to tell that story every night,” she says. “Seeing how much audiences are really responding to it and love it has just been so cool.”
She does take every opportunity she can to frequent the restaurant. She took her family to Tessa before they saw the play when it was Off Broadway in 2015, and she and her husband marked a milestone while dining here.
“After Phillip and I got engaged, we came here to tell everybody,” she remembers with a smile. “We got engaged in Kansas City so kind of getting to come back, it was cool to come here and be like now we’re getting married and this is still our place.”
Go-to Order: “Bruised kale with toasted Marcona almonds and parmesan. It’s my fave. My husband and I usually get it and split it…They do a really great burger here. They also do some amazing pastas. They do a rabbit cavatelli. I have never eaten rabbit in my life, but I was brave enough one day to order it and it was incredible. They also have this burrata appetizer that’s out of control. They do twists on things that I would normally be scared to order, but everything is so good here that I’m always like let’s try it.”