This Mexican-style brasserie is hidden underground, part of a greater complex that includes a more casual street-level taqueria and a takeout window. Both are housed behind a huge, retro facade occupying coveted downtown real estate space, where Soho turns into Nolita on the south side of charming Petrosino Square.
Once you find it and enter the buzzing dining room, you’ll be directed through the kitchen and around the corner into a dim wrought iron dungeon, complete with a full bar and lounge space. Just getting to your table is an experience—ambience is one of the things La Esquina does best.
Certain dishes stand out because of their adventurous twists, like the Chile Relleno, a ground beef–stuffed roasted poblano pepper with pears, raisins, almonds, pomegranate seeds and a memorable walnut sauce ($18).
Other must-orders are the Queso Fundido ($12) and the cooked-to-perfection pork shoulder with jalapeño and hominy grits, rubbed in adobo ($24). Tequila and mezcal enthusiasts will be pleased to find an impressive menu divided into highlands and lowlands, rather than a standard list of margarita specials.
The restaurant isn't out to reinvent the wheel, but what it does, it does right, and with its signature dishes—and non-fussy yet attentive service—it sets itself apart from a million other pricey Mexican joints.
BY: TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER SHAWN McCREESH