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    New York

    LA ESQUINA

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    La Esquina
    Restaurant
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    Local Gems

    La Esquina

    114 Kenmare St., at Lafayette St. (SoHo)

    New York, NY

    (1) 646-613-7100 | www.esquinanyc.com

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    • CUISINE

      Mexican
    • HOURS

      Cafe - Daily: 12:00pm-12:00am; Taqueria - Daily: 8:00am-2:00am; Brasserie - Daily: 6:00pm-2:00am
    • BEST FOR

      Lunch; dinner; late night
    • RESERVATIONS

      Highly recommended
    • BAR

      Yes
    • YEAR OPENED

      2005
    • PRICE (APPETIZER; ENTRÉE)

      USD 7-14; USD 18-31
    • NOISE

      Medium/Loud
    • FAMOUS PLATES

      Chorizo quesadilla; tacos
    • DRINKS AND WINE

      Margaritas; any of the 70 tequilas; agua fracas; juices; beer; wine; cocktails; full bar
    • # OF SEATS

      125
    • OUTDOOR DINING?

      Yes
    • PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE?

      Yes
    • SUBWAY

      Spring 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)
    LaEsquina-122311DA-TPP-2

    VIBE

    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.

    CROWD

    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!)

    CLOSEST COMPS

    El Carmen (Los Angeles); Dos Caminos Soho (New York)


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