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114 Kenmare St., at Lafayette St. (SoHo)
New York, NY
(1) 646-613-7100 | www.esquinanyc.com
HOURSCafe - Daily: 12:00pm-12:00am; Taqueria - Daily: 8:00am-2:00am; Brasserie - Daily: 6:00pm-2:00am
BEST FORLunch; dinner; late night
PRICE (APPETIZER; ENTRÉE)USD 7-14; USD 18-31
FAMOUS PLATESChorizo quesadilla; tacos
DRINKS AND WINEMargaritas; any of the 70 tequilas; agua fracas; juices; beer; wine; cocktails; full bar
# OF SEATS125
PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE?Yes
SUBWAYSpring St. (6); Bowery (J, Z); Prince St. (N, R); Canal St.-Lafayette St. (6); Canal St.-Broadway (N, R); Canal St.-Centre St. (J, Z)
La Esquina, which literally means “the corner,” triples as a taqueria, café, and brasserie all in one, but you’ll probably only spot two of those at first glance. Which is how this has become one of Manhattan’s most in-demand dining destinations. The above-ground taqueria and café, decorated with stacks of books and aging vinyls, dole out taco fare to hungry passersby. But it is the subterranean brasserie, hidden behind a patrolled door labeled “Employees Only,” that truly seduces. Down the narrow steps lies a duskily lit and weathered dungeon-esque brick vault decorated with candles, iron grates, and fashionable artsy types balancing margaritas. The scene is as alluring as it is grubby, and the tasty food manages to match.
The über-hip SoHo style scene, mixed with clusters of young singles, in-the-know speakeasy lovers, fun-loving couples, and the occasional tourist.
WHAT WE WOULD WEAR
Anything funky and fashion-forward, like a flatteringly cut top, designer jeans, chic boots, and fun accessories. You can go more casual to the taqueria and to the café.
GO HERE WITH
The girls; Mexican food maniacs; a fun date
WHY WE LIKE IT
The place has this air of exclusivity and mystery that New Yorkers never cease to crave. (Count us among them.) We also like to come to the quiet café for lunch on a weekend–the tacos make surprisingly good hangover cures.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
The door to the downstairs is blocked by sentries who seem only too happy to turn away anyone without a reservation. And getting a reservation is more difficult than you’d think.
GOOD TO KNOW
The café area’s more limited menu is good for those looking for a quick bite, while the taqueria take-out window is perfect for those on the go. Reservations for the popular downstairs are notoriously hard to get, but the bar there is first come, first served. (So get there early!)
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