When you think 24-hour “diner,” you think of a spot to grab cheap, greasy food either before, during, or after a night of heavy drinking; the menu being full of the kind of food you almost can’t eat unless you’re already drunk.
While you can definitely get your all-hours drink and dine on at Bushwick’s new Amancay’s Diner, what makes it a fantastic addition to the neighborhood is the opportunity it provides for so much more.
“It’s not really a diner,” says owner Chang Han, 48, the crazy, shady escapades of whom are well-documented. “It’s my diner.” With that, it’s easy to assume his new project would reflect his, shall we say, debaucherous past, but Amancay’s is full of pleasant surprises.
There’s the infamous spin-the-bottle table, of course, the large size of which may deter an actual game, but we’re excited to see people get creative with it. But barring that table’s cheekiness, the dining space is almost… tame?
The kind of spot where you could get work done during the day, plugged into one of their many wall outlets, drinking Porto Rico Importing Co. coffee. Or enjoy a casual brunch with friends on the weekends, sitting and listening to ambient jazz. Want to learn some African drumming on a weekday evening? They’ve got that planned too.
It’s certainly not as trashy as much of its hype implies, though if that’s what you want, they’ll try and accommodate that. “I think it will be anything goes,” said Justin Harter, the man in charge of POS system operations and customer relations. “We’re striving for a higher standard… rather than the opposite and having to claw our way back up. I hope people get it, and if not, we’ll adapt. But let’s start here.”
Amancay’s meals hover around $15 per plate.
They certainly are striving for a higher caliber of food than your average diner fare, with entrees like shrimp scampi, hanger steak, and chicken and waffles hovering around $15+ per plate. There are a number of vegetarian and gluten free items, as well, and we got the feeling it’s the type of place that would really strive to provide for those with even the strangest of dietary needs. Brunch and late-night menus are coming soon.
Ultimately, it’s the kind of spot you could ostensibly take your mother for a meal, especially if, like mine, your parents seem to enjoy seeing evidence of what a “crazy NY life” you lead, but only to a point.
Max Cellar, the basement venue will surprise you.
That point is definitely hit as you head downstairs to Max Cellar, the basement venue complete with bar and fully decked out stage. While the decor below may seem hectic, excessively cheeky, and at times outright offensive to some (a pillow depicting vaginal anatomy comes to mind), every detail was thoughtfully chosen by Han with the enjoyment of patrons and performers in mind.
Keep your eyes out for more curiosities, like the dragonfly made up of ceiling pipes and sound-absorbing flannel flying overhead, the drugs allegedly hidden away in the furniture, or the 100-year-old Moroccan door leading to the corner DJ booth. There’s even a slightly ostentatious shower in the corner intended for visiting musicians on tour. The best part? Han intends to never charge a cover, making it an awesome, risk-free place to play or see a show.
As an unnamed waitress mentioned in passing, “in NYC, you can get a lot of things, but never bored.” The same goes for Amancay’s, which is sorely lacking in current online presence, meaning you may never know what you’re going to get when you stop by, but it’s certain to be an interesting time.
Amancay’s is located at 2 Knickerbocker Avenue, and is open 24-hours starting on Monday, March 16. They can be reached at 718-628-8855.
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