La Esquina – NY

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This was the restaurant that crowned my meeting with Jessica Giovanini – who writes about Literary Gastronomy and Cinema & Food here at ICKFD- here in NY. Well, I already say in advance that we do not eat dessert. Yeah, it happens … lol. And in a city like NY it’s not always a bad idea to leave dessert for later.
We had a day worthy of those who really enjoy the world of gastronomy. We met for breakfast, talked a lot between sips of coffee and bites of bread with cream cheese. We wandered through several kitchenware stores, of course, and ended the meeting at a small restaurant in Soho – the first time for both.la corner fer flaiban ickfd5THE La Esquina is a Mexican Taqueria / Café / Brasserie that is being called “speakeasy” by the specialized media. Calm down, I’ll explain: speakeasy is a term that in the past used to mean underground places that sold alcohol without a license. Nowadays, this term is used to designate places that do not advertise themselves, where customers have been discovering word of mouth, you know? One spoke to the other who spoke to the other and so on. They are usually discreet and small places, where word of mouth becomes the soul of the business. La Esquina is exactly that.La esquina fer flaiban ickfd1A door with neon signs very discreet on the outside and a room with 10 tables inside. With walls filled with picturesque pictures of familiar scenes in black and white, Latin colors on the walls, white and black glazed floors and a floor-to-ceiling shelf filled with books and vinyl records, La Esquina is exactly what I expect of a restaurant in NY: Alice’s rabbit hole, you know? That leads to a world apart, timeless and full of information to be processed.
We arrived already after 13:00 and the tables were all occupied. The audience is young, in their 20s and 40s. The soundtrack is excellent, mixing Latin (including Brazilian) and American music in the repertoire. Photos are for sale and books can be read by customers while they are in the restaurant. Everything very organized and tight. The wooden tables match the dishes, as neither one follows a pattern.
la esquina fer flaiban ickfd2The taqueria is open until the house closes, which means Fridays and Saturdays until 1 am. And from 10 pm to 2 am every day, this micro space becomes a brasserie with a DJ playing live. The specialized media speaks highly of drinks and cocktails, especially margueritas. So, maybe it’s a place to meet interesting people on a hike through the city that never sleeps. But, coming back to the light of day, the menu (I said before, concise) is divided into 4 salads, 1 soup, 6 starters, 4 different sandwiches – called pie, some side dishes that pair with corn tortillas, 5 main courses and 4 desserts.
There are variations between the lunch, dinner and Brasserie menu, which is served late night. Jessica and I got into Mexican cuisine with our choices: she asked for a Ceviche Acapulco and i started with Tostada de Cangrejo. The Ceviche was very fresh, made with the fish of the day, prawns, fresh tomato sauce, avocado, coriander and lots of jalapeno pepper. Attention: if you cannot tolerate the spicy taste, please stay away from this delicacy. Ah! To break it up a bit and add a crunchy texture, the ceviche comes with fried green Platanos, some crispy green banana pancakes, slightly sweet and deliciously fried.
I was more conservative. I ordered some tortilla toast with fresh dumplings and crab meat ice cream with mango and chipotle type mayonnaise (mild, for those interested). I loved starters. I’m just absolutely sure that it would be much more tasty made with Brazilian mangoes…. Seriously people, the mango here doesn’t have much flavor, but even so it goes well with crab meat. A must!la corner fer flaiban ickfd3For main course, we went for pies. Jessica chose a huge juicy hamburger – as illustrated in the photo – accompanied by fresh queso, red onions and avocado. I never thought that a hamburger in a Mexican establishment was so tasty and very well done. And the combination of the flavors was jaw-dropping. Detail, it came with lots of fries… .rs… .it looked like a double portion. Perfectly fried, seasoned with paprika, slightly vinegary and deliciously salted.
My pie, by Pollo Rostizado, was giganticooooooooo. What a fright! Stuffed with rotisserie chicken, arugula, onions, tomatoes, avocado and of course, chipotle mayonnaise. I need to speak my testimony here: it was sooooooooo delicious and frighteningly I ate it whole. I was scared of myself and that explains why not dessert in this post. Sorry!la esquina fer flaiban ickfd4For more information on location, hours of operation and menu, stop by www.esquinanyc.com and buen apetito.

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