Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Trendy Mexican? Yes, please!

When I hear the words trendy and Mexican used together to describe a restaurant, I usually run in the other direction. Trendy usually means fancy and overpriced, and Mexican food, which can be served elegantly, shouldn't be fooled with for the sake of hipness. La Esquina/ The Corner (106 Kenmare, NY, NY 10012) puts trendy and Mexican together in a surprisingly affordable way--if you know what to order.

For lunch, stay away from the ceviche acapulco (too much avocado and not enough fish, though well seasoned) and satisfy your hunger and palate with a torta, described on the menu as a Mexican street sandwich. To make the torta, cooks at La Esquina butterfly a generous piece of a crunchy french baguette and spread cilantro-lime mayo on both sides before packing the bread full of savory chicken rostizado, avocado and queso fresco, or roasted pork. Lettuce and tomato round out the flavors by adding a crisp coolness to the warm meats or creamy avocado. These hearty sandwiches are accompanied by a mesclun salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a pile of salty homemade potato chips. At under $10.00 each , La Esquina will leave you wanting more trendy Mexican food and the plata to do it.

The restaurant has two faces: the diner-lunch cart look of the ground level and the Gothic-underground lounge of the dining room/ bar in the basement. Make sure you have a reservation as you step through the bouncer-guarded-employees-only door to step through the pristine kitchen into the hopping bar below.

Important Info: Phone Number: 646-613-7100

Hours: Taqueria: 24 hours Cafe: 12pm-12am Brasserie: 6pm-2am

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