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Ay Papi is a vibe. From Culinary Creative Group, the Cherry Creek North bar and eatery—which opened just a block away from its sister location, cocktail hot spot Forget Me Not, in July—evokes sultry Havana nights and a posh Miami attitude. Menu highlights include halibut ceviche, Cuban sandwiches, and appropriately rum-centric cocktails, but Ay Papi’s captivating island aesthetic is worth savoring on its own.
“The space is meant to [transport you] someplace you’re not,” says Nicole Lebedevitch, Culinary Creative Group’s director of operations and beverage, of the breezy interior inspired by vintage paintings of the Cuban capital and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Inside, the back bar’s arched walnut built-ins and brushed-gold shelving ground the space, while mosaic tile flooring, rich goldenrod-upholstered seating, and soft aqua blue accents add color and interest. Outside, the patio’s pergola is draped with trailing greenery that filters sunlight and blocks views of the buildings above.
But the key to the design is a giant, greenhouse-esque skylight that runs the length of the bar. Hanging plants and white globe lanterns dangle from its rafters, drawing the eye upward to give the narrow room a spacious feel. “It’s open, light, and airy—beautiful during the day,” Lebedevitch says. “As the sun sets and the light changes, the interior becomes a whole new space.” If that’s not enough to keep us sipping past happy hour, we don’t know what is.