La Esquina-- review
I went last night with some friends and was really impressed. It was a bit of scene and we had to wait about 40 minutes for a table (around 9:45 on a Friday) but there was definitely great payoff. We shared the Oxtail Flautas, Grilled Corn and the Mixta Salad to start with. The Flautas were great, really flavorful almost-- not just fried tasting. The oxtail was delicious and they were topped with queso, radish and avocado. The salad was surprisingly good lots of fresh vegetables (corn, avocado, radish, string beans, jicama, etc.) and a great light dressing. The grilled corn was amazing. We asked what the secret ingredient was and were told they put mayo instead of butter on the corn, queso and chile powder. For main course I had Manila Clams and Chirzo with Fideos. Wow, one of the best things I've eaten in a while. It was almost like a really light tomato-based summery stew with a great kick and the perfect amount of cooling cilantro. Also tasted the grilled shrimp (three of the biggest I've seen), I forget what the sauce was (maybe Chipotle/Cinnamon) but they were also terrific. Also tasted the Chile Relleno and the Chicken Tinga-- everything was really wonderful. What we were most impressed by was that each tasted so distinct from the others and was wonderfully/uniquely spiced.
We sat in the upstairs cafe (didn't get to check out the downstairs, which I think has a pricier menu). Despite the fact that this is one of those places where you would expect the service to be snotty-- they were really nice. Our party of four turned into six and they had no problem just throwing some chairs on to the end of the table and didn't mind that our friends just ordered some drinks. It was a wonderful meal and so unique from any place that I've tried in New York. Highly recommended.