Saturday, September 20, 2014

La Esquina

At the beginning of the year, CT decided to start giving back to the community by volunteering at an animal shelter. Call it a New Year’s resolution, but unlike most people, I don’t see her giving up anytime soon, especially when part of the job includes playing with puppies! The shelter happens to be in Nolita/Soho which has a ton of great dining options. However, we don’t find ourselves there too often. Therefore, her weekly volunteer sessions opened the door to us having a nice Sunday lunch beforehand. We already started compiling a list including Parm, Balaboosta and more.

On one such Sunday, we headed down to try out some of the Italian-American classics at Parm. Unfortunately, we didn’t leave enough time for ourselves and couldn’t do the 45 minute wait. Since there are so many great restaurants nearby, it wasn’t a huge issue. We’ll just go another weekend and leave earlier.

We decided to check out La Esquina for some tacos. At first, it looks like just a very low-key, unassuming taco stand that happens to be patronized by a lot of hipsters. There is actually a “secret” restaurant in the basement that apparently you have to “know someone” in order to eat at. PASS! We just wanted some tacos for lunch. It was a very small place due to the awkward shape of the building with just a few stools inside, which were first come first served. They also have counter space on the outside of the building, but it was too cold to eat outside. Fortunately for us, after ordering a couple of stools opened up.

We enjoyed our drinks while we waited. I got iced hibiscus tea and CT got a Mango drink. Both were $2.75. I really enjoyed my tea. It was refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness and not too floral from the hibiscus.

They had a nice selection of hot sauces along with ketchup on the counter.

We then waited and waited and waited. A couple groups who in after us got their food and left. CT went to check with the cashier. It turned out they FORGOT OUR ORDER! This was especially shocking because they had a high tech POS system. It wasn’t a Mom & Pop shop with hand written orders. She offered to give us free drinks, but we already paid for the drinks we had. At least she offered and was apologetic.

A couple minutes after that debacle, our food was ready. We were hungry when we got there, so waiting made us famished. Good thing we ordered a ton to share.

Pollo Rostizado Torta ($8.25). It had rotisserie chicken, arugula, shaved onion, tomato, avocado and chipotle mayo. I was not expecting a crusty baguette since it isn’t the traditional bread used for a torta, but it worked. If messiness is how you grade a sandwich, it was really good. The chicken was nice and juicy, but the chipotle mayo was a little lacking so some extra hot sauce was needed. I like arugula, so it brought some good peppery roughage to the sandwich.

Next was three different tacos. All were in the $3 range. I was worried that the reasonable price in an expensive neighborhood meant the tacos would be tiny. Fortunately, each taco had a ton of fillings, maybe too much.

Papa, Nopales y Chorizo ($3.25). Chorizo sausage, potatoes, cactus, salsa verde. I love chorizo, so this taco definitely hit the spot. There wasn’t much cactus or potato, but I was too busy scarfing it down to care.

Left- Lengua ($3.95). Veal tongue, guacamole, crema, black beans.
Right- Aguacate con Queso ($3.25). Avocado, queso fresco, black bean, pico de gallo, salsa verde.

We didn’t take more pictures of the taco innards since they were quite juicy and our hands were too messy to handle the camera. The lengua taco had pretty big slices of tongue, reminiscent of a Jewish deli. I am pretty sure the lengua I had in the past was chopped up like the chorizo above. Regardless, the meat was delicious and quite “tonguey.” We got the “vegetarian” taco to be healthy. It was quite tasty due to the quality ingredients.

We also got the Plantanos Machos Fritos ($4). It had plantains, salsa verde, queso fresco. I had expected the plantains to be tostones rather than maduros, so there was some disappointment there. Regardless it was a HUGE amount of food for that price. I was happy to have some more queso fresco. It seems to be the one cheese that is hardest to find in Manhattan taco joints. Sadly, we didn’t have room to finish these.

All in all, La Esquina makes some pretty good Mexican street food. Usually, I wouldn’t give them a second chance after “forgetting” our food, but I may just have to. Fortunately, there have been a slew of good taco joints opening up in Manhattan over the past couple of years to feed the growing demand for quality Mexican food. You have been warned that you may have to sit in close proximity to a hipster.

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Comments

17 Responses to “La Esquina”
  1. CT says:

    TT forgot to mention the name of the awesome shelter I’ve been volunteering at: Animal Haven! They have the sweetest, most adorable dogs and cats just waiting for a happy new home. So if you’re considering a furry new family member, please consider adopting from them. You can get a sneak peak on their website (http://www.animalhavenshelter.org/) and then visit the furballs themselves at the shelter!

  2. hungry says:

    What’s the difference between a tostone and a maduro?

    • TT says:

      maduro is just sliced fried plaintain that is somewhat sweet. tostone is sliced and flattened, so like a super thick potato chip and more savory than a maduro.

      • T.C. says:

        tostones and maduros are both plaintains usually. tostones is prepared like TT mentioned with the unripe green plaintain and maduros are the ripe plaintain thus sweeter.

  3. T.C. says:

    The torta looks and sounds muy bueno. Big fan of baguette over the traditional torta bread so that works.

    Sweet plaintains are macho?

  4. Goats says:

    CT, can i come borrow some dogs?

    • CT says:

      Borrow? They sometimes need foster-homes, but you may need to be a volunteer for that, I’m not entirely certain.

  5. Goats says:

    I mean TT

    • TT says:

      nope, you mean CT. She is the good person who volunteers there.

      • Goats says:

        Yes Yes–CT. I get confused by these strangr acronyms!

        Maybe I should volunteer. I was looking at bidawee, not to far from you guys….But I’m lazy….and haven’t actually taken any steps yet. To incorporate food into my response, I will bring some tacos from la esquina to feed the shelter dogs. CT, is that allowed? If so, I am in! dogs love tacos!

        • I had no idea it was an animal shelter CT was volunteering at – I’ve considered doing this many times, but I just can’t, I think it would break my heart every time one was adopted, or even worse… when one wasn’t adopted. Props to CT for doing so.

          PS just remove the day of the week she volunteers and it’ll be stalker-friendly :)

          • CT says:

            I thought I would feel that way too… and sometimes you do. But mostly you just want to sneak them all in your coat and take them home with you! But you feel happy when they get adopted and go to a new home. Plus, it’s not a typical shelter with lots of dogs drugged and caged and on display. These guys can be quiet feisty (like you!) and so playful. I’ve also been very fortunate with the weather, so I’ve gotten to take them on nice walks and sit outside with them. Omg, they are just so cute! Watch out TT – we may have a new roommate soon! :P

        • CT says:

          No feeding tacos to the puppies! They have plenty of their own treats though. Tacos go in CT and TT’s tummy only! Ok, maybe your tummy too. Now I want a taco.

          • Goats says:

            And don’t forget Max’s tummy. She’d be very offended if she was denied tacos. Especially taco bell, her favorite…

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  1. [...] standoff! Feisty Foodie’s TT recounts a meal at La Esquina, Dave Cook reports from the street on a sidewalk taco stand, and Donny Tsang pays a visit to [...]



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