‘Gitano Island’ is NYC’s newest ‘immensely disappointing scam’

It was supposed to be one of this summer’s hottest spots, but it’s leaving customers cold.

The opening of Gitano Island — an offshoot of a popular bar and restaurant in Tulum that has long had sceney seasonal popups in downtown NYC — was breathlessly anticipated. Founder James Gardner told The Post he was transporting 350 tons of sand and 500 tropical plants across the East River to set the mood at the Governors Island beach club.

But those who have taken the $4 ferry ride to Gitano Island say it’s no paradise.

Paul Yoon, a 33-year-old who lives in Williamsburg and works in data analytics, went to Gitano with four friends to celebrate the Fourth of July. They’d seen ads for the place on Instagram advertising a high-end classy beach club — the kind where Lindsay Lohan might try jumping on stage to DJ — and wanted to explore things to do on Governors Island. The group arrived 15 minutes early to their reservation and were made to wait despite there being “many, many empty tables,” he said.

Things only got worse from there.

Gitano opened on Governors Island this summer, signing a five-year contract to run from Memorial Day to the end of October.
gitano island
The pop-up of the iconic ritzy beach club in Tulum, Mexico was advertised as a high-end bohemian beach club, but has left many customers feeling catfished.

When the group ordered around 2 pm, the kitchen was out of ceviche and hamburgers. Instead they were forced to opt for a tiny portion of guacamole for $24, a sad watermelon salad for $18, an $18 miniscule avocado toast, sloppy $18 huevos rancheros and $32 grilled prawns with tortillas that Yoon told The Post smelled “weird” and had a texture reminiscent of “cardboard.”

They also enjoyed watery $21 cocktails and a $16 Ginger Mint mocktail that “tasted like lemon concentrate” and “had [to be mixed] with water just to make it drinkable.”

In total, the five friends spent $450 but left feeling “hungry” and “cheated,” Yoon told The Post. His experience him was so miserable, he felt compelled to spread the word and write his first ever Google review: “Terrible and wo n’t ever come again,” was how Yoon concluded his write-up.

Watermelon salad and guacamole at Gitano Island
Many people have complained online about their terrible food including the $18 watermelon salad and $24 guacamole.
Paul Yoon
Avocado toast at Gitano Island
Visitors have also noted the tiny portions, especially the high price of the limited food options such as the $18 avocado toast.
Paul Yoon
Huevos Rancheros at Gitano Island
Complaints of bad service, long waits and unavailable menu options also fill the online reviews and social media comments.
Paul Yoon

Other reviews are also quite negative, describing the restaurant as “a crypto scam,” a “lovely venue with zero vibe,” “literally a hot mess,” “immensely disappointing and overpriced,” “clearly a ghost town” and “totally pointless .” In addition to the poorly executed, expensive food and drink, reviewers note that members of the staff are rude, construction is happening right next to the tables and reservations do not seem to matter even when plenty of tables are empty.

And just like all the Instagram influencers it was hoping to attract, the pictures of Gitano Island are very misleading with one Yelp reviewer noting the “makeshift pond” he expected to be a pool from the strategically angled photos.

“Run away With the upmost urgency!” Vincent OuYoung warned.

“We felt catfished,” Anthony Franco wrote.

There are also positive reviews, but many have been left by users with no previous reviews, making their authenticity seem questionable. The Gitano Group did not reply to The Post for a comment.

Empty Gitano Island on the Fourth of July
Paul Yoon arrived at Gitano Island on the Fourth of July expecting a popping beach club, but was left wandering around the empty space after his disappointing meal.
Paul Yoon

Yoon was “extremely disappointed” after his “awful” meal and wandered around the large area after eating trying to decide his next move as the few other tables finished their meals. “No one was dancing,” he said.

Gitano Island signed a five-year contract to run from Memorial Day to the end of October at their Governors Island location, but we’ll see if they can scheme their way through this summer.


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