Ever since I first visited New York in the summer, I’ve been wanting to check out La Esquina. Friends of mine make sure to dine there every time they’re in the city, and they have great taste when it comes to finding restaurants, delicious food, and vibrant and fun atmospheres.
To get a reservation on popular weekend nights in the Brasserie, where there’s a DJ and dancing, calls need to be made 3 weeks to the day in advance, and often you’ll be put on hold or can’t get through the line. After calling a few times, we finally got a spot to dine at 11:30 PM and managed to get a group of 10 people in around the same time on 2 separate reservations.
On the day of dining, we got phone calls saying that they were cancelling all reservations, due to Hurricane Sandy wiping out all power in the area until just the evening prior, so they were serving a limited menu. The good news was that everyone could still come in at any point after they opened. We decided to go after all the fuss, and just enjoyed what we could from the food they had available. We ended up having a great night regardless!
When arriving at the restaurant, it looks like an unassuming taco shop on the main level (because it is as there’s a Taqueria and Cafe, although they do serve from the same kitchen). We were greeted at the entrance by a doorman or two, who then led us down some stairs, through the kitchen, and around the corner to the dimly lit, lively underground dining room. The space was filled with people seated at all available tables, and many were also lined up along the bar with tequila cocktails of several varieties.
We were seated at our table, and I was super excited to hear that they still had their infamous grilled Mexican street corn, or Elotes Callejeros, on the limited menu selection for the evening. I’d been hearing about this corn constantly, so I wouldn’t have felt like I’d had the full experience without it. And indeed, it was delicious! Some of the best corn I’ve ever had. Mind you, it was probably super calorie-rich, but that’s why it was so amazing. Butter, cheese, and spicy goodness!
After much admiration and happy “mmmms” and “ahhhhs” around the table during the round of corn, we moved on to our appetizer of the day, the Tuna Ceviche Acapulco. Again very enjoyable, this dish is made with whatever market fish is available, along with fresh tomato, avocado, jalapeno, and lime.
For our mains, we shared a variety of tacos. I tried both the Cochinita (pulled pork) tacos and the Pescado (Fish) Tacos, although I heard that the Bistec (Beef) ones were the favourites of the evening. I was too full to order more myself, but it just gives me an excuse to head back for a follow-up visit. The fish ones with reds onions and salsa verde were also very good, and the slow-cooked pulled pork ones were very spicy, pickled onions, and habanero. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent picture of the latter, as I was enjoying my wine a little too much.
After my experience with friends visiting from Vancouver that night at La Esquina, I definitely want to head back another time now that they have their full menu back in effect. I don’t think I’ll make it back this week before I have to leave New York, but next time I return to the city I will for sure!