Restaurant Review: Cafe de La Esquina
August 12, 2011 11:57 PM - Deleted
225 Wythe Ave (btw N3rd and Metropolitan)
Williamsburg (Northside)

So I glanced over on Brownstoner today and saw the post that said the Freeman's offshoot Isa (not Ina) was open and serving dinner on Wythe and South 2nd, so I decided to swing by for an early dinner before the hoards of Manhattanite scenester foodies make the place unbearable. Of course the Brownstoner information was WRONG and they're still doing friends and family soft open, so figured I'd keep it consistent and try another Manhattan Burg spinoff......La Esquina (or Cafe de La Esquina at the Wythe Diner as they're calling it).

Okay, so I really wanted to hate this place. It embodies everything that is going horribly wrong with Northside Williamsburg nowadays. For those who don't know, La Esquina is this Mexican restaurant-cum night club in Soho (Kenmare/Lafayette) that was a hotspot circa early-mid 2000s where downtown kids went to do blow and eat overpriced tacos. The food at the taco stand portion of the Soho original has always been solid, but the scene has always been a real turnoff. The Brooklyn location opened this week in the former space of a fairly beloved Williamsburg classic, Relish, which closed earlier this year, certainly not scoring it any points with any long-time Williamsburgers (the few that are left).

So it was pretty crowded when we walked in at 7:30, but the friendly hostess greeted us right away and steered us to a couple of bar seats. The place is an old school diner car - think "Diner" on Broadway, but much more spacious. So far so good. Once seated, a nice bartender/server greeted us immediately and got us some water. Already quite an improvement over the original La Esquina, as she didn't scowl at us and make us feel like losers for not being dressed like we just stepped off a runway in Milan.

What to drink......No beer on tap yet (despite having it on the menu) so we ordered a round of beers (sol, modelo especial can) and some shots of "not too expensive but not shitty tequila." The tequila shots came with a nice sangrita chaser (but were $10 bucks each for a Manhattan sized pour). The waitress made a funny crack about doing shots so early. They also had a small cocktail list with pretty standard stuff you'll find in a Mexican place (micheladas, margaritas and other tequila based libations). Margaritas started at $10, which seems the going rate at other places in the nabe nowadays.

Our water glasses never got less than half empty before being refilled. Already my expectations were more than exceeded.

Food: I had the mole enchiladas, as I always find a Mexican place's mole sauce a good barometer if they know what they're doing. Pretty damn good. Definitely beats the hell out of the ones at "Mole" in the Northside Piers retail space - but definitely not as good as Mesa Coyocan over on Graham. Dining companion had some tacos - good, but not great. I saw lots of people ordering the burger, which looked pretty legit.

As soon as the clock struck 8:30 - the music volume got turned up by 50% and switched from decent indie rock to an odd mix of poppy hip hop and Fleetwood Mac. The bass was vibrating the bar, but I really didn't mind since I was comfortable, full and had a pretty good buzz going.

Crowd was a decent mix of your typical Williamsburg "hipsters", some old dudes in their 60s and the new-to-the-waterfront finance dudes. Everyone seemed to get along well though.

This place is pricey. 2 beers, 2 shots, an entree and a couple of tacos came out to $86 bucks before tip. Left the server a $20 because I expected her to be a total bitch but she was actually the nicest server in Williamsburg I've encountered in months (probably because she wasn't a hipster, more like an aspiring european model/actress type). If you want cheap, good Mexican stay away from here and go to La Superior and be prepared to stand your ass out on lower Berry St for a good 90 minutes.

Overall, a pretty damn good time. I will definitely be back as it seems rather than bringing Soho to Williamsburg, the owners seem to know that Brooklyn demands a more low key experience (yes, even in WB) and have catered to the tastes of the neighborhood.

Granted as I write this at midnight on Friday - it may have turned into a total shitshow over there.

Ratings (out of 5):
Ambiance : 4
Service: 5
Value: 2
Food Quality : 3.5
Overall rating : 3.5

August 13, 2011 9:41 AM - gay smurf hoodlum
The waitress made a funny crack about doing shots so early.

i woulda complained to management right then and there. you dont do that shit. what an unprofessional twatwaffle.


August 13, 2011 10:01 AM - Deleted
nah, not unprofessional. she was just trying to develop a rapport with us, which she did a good job of through out the evening.

man - i need to be a bartender - i bet she made at least $500 last night.
August 13, 2011 10:28 AM - gay smurf hoodlum
i guess, but she could have said it to the wrong person and gotten bitch slapped. (metaphorically of course)


Edited at August 13, 2011 10:28 AM
August 13, 2011 10:29 AM - gay smurf hoodlum
i didnt even realize you wrote this article, dh, until just now. i was like WOW scott mustve taken an intensive restaurant review course overnight!


Edited at August 13, 2011 10:29 AM
August 13, 2011 10:31 AM - gay smurf hoodlum
man - i need to be a bartender - i bet she made at least $500 last night.

it's not worth it. you wind up with waitress cankles by the time youre 30.


Edited at August 13, 2011 10:31 AM
August 13, 2011 10:37 AM - Deleted
haha - i got drunk and bored last night and channeled my internal annoying yelper.
August 13, 2011 10:44 AM - gay smurf hoodlum
i do like that you said it WAS expensive (cuz it is) i HATE HATE HATE reviews where people say, they always do, stupid shit like, for the cheap price of 15 dollars for this drink, for the budget consciously amazingly price of 276 dollars this ice cream is... etc etc. bitch, please.

i prefer reviews that leave out prices for some reason.. i feel like when they mention prices and comment on prices they alienate a lot of the readers.


August 13, 2011 10:55 AM - More4Less
DH, always knew you got it in you for these restaurant & bar reviews. $86 is pricey for that amount of food & drinks
August 13, 2011 11:00 AM - gay smurf hoodlum
how about the elephant in the room tho. was the coke in the bathroom any good!?