Sorry for the long delay between posts – it’s been one of those weeks! Continuing my tale of two Mexican restaurants, my husband and I went to La Esquina last week with a last-minute reservation.
We entered the restaurant via the upstairs “diner” where two men who have the appearance of bouncers were guarding a door that leads down to the restaurant. After the bouncers cleared our reservation, we were permitted through the door and directed down a set of stairs to a hostess stand. The hostess checked us in and sent us to wait at the bar, which you access via the kitchen. This all sounds very pretentious (and it was), but everybody on the staff was extremely nice.
We waited for fewer than 10 minutes for our table, which was perfectly fine because the people watching was exquisite. Such a scene! The space is quite unique and since I can’t come up with the words to describe the underground lair, I will borrow from Frank Bruni’s review – “Within weathered brick walls are wrought-iron gates that recall the bars of an ancient prison cell, chandeliers that hold fat wax candles and murals made with tiles painted in Mexico. If the Phantom of the Opera hired Zorro as an interior designer and asked him for something in contemporary Torquemada, this might be the result.” I couldn’t have said it better myself….
We followed the instructions provided by my friend who got us the reservation and is a regular and ordered the following:
- Ensalada De La Casa – organic baby greens, avocado, queso fresco, sesame seeds, balsamic vinaigrette
- Cochinita Pibil Taquitos – pulled pork, shredded cabbage, pickled onions, jalapeno
- Tostada De Cangrejo – lump crabmeat, mango, tomato, chipotle mayo
- Carne Asada con Chimichurri – adobo char-grilled sirloin, poblano pepper & potato gratin, chimichurri sauce
The salad and the carne asada were the best items that we tried. I wouldn’t have ordered the salad without being tipped off (generally, I prefer to save room for more fattening food), but my husband and I both loved the salad. It was tangy and delicious in all the right ways. The carne asada was our other top pick, particularly the poblano pepper and potato gratin side dish and the wonderful chimichurri dipping sauce. We were less excited about the other two dishes, but both were good, particularly the clean and refreshing crabmeat tostada. We drank a regular margarita and a blood orange margarita – the latter was too sweet for my tastes (no surprise there given my palate) and the regular was enjoyable if unremarkable. We got out of La Esquina for $125 – considering that I have to spend that much to go to subpar Cafe Frida in my neighborhood, La Esquina was reasonably priced.
For a restaurant with so much scene, the food was very good. The food is not worth the hassle of getting a reservation so go to check out the “only in New York” (or maybe LA) scene and enjoy a great meal while you’re at it.