Food review: This Manhattan dream bar features good music and greater food

Known for crowds of twenty-somethings loudly singing along to 80s music on weekends, Joshua Tree East in Manhattan is much more than just a late night spot to dance on a ledge with some of your closest friends.

The Murray Hill bar has developed a reputation for great eats thanks to Instagram sensational chef, Wilmer Chuqui — who’s turned Joshua Tree into a brunch and happy hour hot spot, with Instagram-worthy courses pleasing to the eyes and stomach.

Chef Wilmer pours queso onto nachos in the Joshua Tree kitchen.

From his specialty “gallon nachos” served out of a can to brunch classics like eggs Benedict, mimosa towers and sweeter midday offerings such as Oreo pancakes, Chef Wilmer has rooted Joshua Tree as one of the city’s best brunch spots.

Joshua Tree’s dinner menu also rivals that of many Manhattan competitors that aren’t playing the iconic 1980s music video of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” while you eat.

Start your meal with the gallon nachos, queso-drenched chips served out of a massive can. If that’s not to your liking, you can sample the massively sized and portioned mozzarella sticks.

Up next are two of Wilmer’s specialty, crispy chicken sandwiches, the bacon and ranch topped ‘classic’ and its spicer buffalo sauce gushing counterpart. The portions put Chick-fil-a and Popeyes to shame.

Chef Wilmer’s two crispy chicken sandwiches.

“The buffalo one is my favorite item on the menu,” Wilmer said, adding, “just smashing the sandwich as far down as you can” is the best course of action for packing in these poultry based behemoths. 

That classic is indeed a classic, crispy, refreshing and certainly filling sandwich. While the buffalo redux harnesses much more spice to its flavor, making its kick one that goes down greatly with the gentle zing of margarita in hand. 

Not in the mood for chicken? Then perhaps you’re hungry enough to encounter Chef Wilmer’s signature, triple-decker cheeseburger.

The chef’s specialty burger and a basket of fries at Joshua Tree.

Using flatter patties to make the most of the burger’s caramelization, Wilmer grills this elevated burger to perfection, bringing out familiar flavors while putting his own unique accent on the burger. 

Overall, Joshua Tree East and Chef Wilmer have put together a dynamite menu and atmosphere designed to make your weekends unforgettable time and time again.

It also has a dance floor and DJs guaranteed to play the best of the best music — such as Call On Me by Eric Prydz. 

Alex Mitchell