I was going to New York and asked a young ‘happening scene’ guy at work for some cool ‘locals only’ restaurants. I try to stay away from the tourist traps. When I’m out and about I like to go where the locals go. A much better experience. Put it this way…would you eat at Darling Harbour in Sydney or Hardware Lane in Melbourne if you really had a choice? I’d rather go to a food court! If your answer is yes, you need to keep reading my blogs.
So ‘young happening scene guy’ tells me of one of the coolest places he’d been to in a long time is La Esquina in Soho, New York. “Book though or you’ll have no chance.”
So I booked…
The cab drops me off. I think mmm, I’ve been had. I’m looking at this take away Mexican joint that’s being held together by gaffer tape. Anyway I walk through the front flyscreen door into this space no bigger than a small lounge room in a 2 bedroom unit. I squeeze past 4 people (I’m talking small space) to get to the take away pick up counter say “Excuse me, I have a reservation.”
The guy smiles and points me to the this small Mexican guy with headphones, a microphone mouth piece and a folder. So I squeeze past 4 people again and tell the guy I have a reservation. He says “Como te llamas?”
I have no idea what he said but he’s looking at this folder and yelling at me. This is not good…I’m about to send my Mate a nasty bit of text when the guy says “watisa ur nome?”
“Oh! It’s D’Orazio. Rob D’Orazio”
Next thing he points to a door with ‘staff only’ on it. He opens the door and starts yelling “pasa, pasa.” I’m thinking, no need to be rude you very short person. “Pasa pasa,” I walk down a long flight of stairs into this bustling kitchen and hesitate for a minute. I stop. I shouldn’t be in the kitchen! “Passa, passa,” they yell, so I keep walking…through another door… and all of a sudden I hear people. Lots of people. I hear groovy tunes – louder and louder. I smell food, smokey smells, fajitas, lime, fried onion, jalepenos, perfume, tequila, beer….heaven. WOW! A massive underground warehouse space. Wooden beams, brick work, artwork, tables, dim lighting (everyone looks good) and people everywhere. Happy times! This is a restaurant! OK now what?
The deal is you hang at the bar until a table is ready. Hang on, I have a reservation! Rob D’Orazio! The bar is crammed and cheerful … but now I’m starving. I want my table now. How do I do that? I ask the waiter walking past. “5 minutes,” he says.
Twenty minutes later, the same guy walks past, “5 minutes,” again. I ask this guy and his partner who are near me, “How do I get my table?”
Laughing the guy says “Don’t ask the waiters…if you do they’ll make you wait longer. They love that…Just grab a drink and they’ll call your name when a table is ready.”
Waiting, waiting, waiting…I order a drink or two and start to relax after some very nice tequilas. I don’t care about my table anymore. I’m now involved in a discussion with a group of 5 people about who’s going to win the Super Bowl – (no idea.) Then, “Rov Dizarrero, Rov Dizarrero? Table is ready.”
Half drunk I follow Manuel. That’s not his name, I just made that up. Great…
Fantastic menu – Menu
Where is it? – How to get there
Mexican heaven. Best ever. Margaritas, unbelievable. Website click here
The Diner’s Verdict: This place is popular. The food is sensational. They will not take bookings more than 3 weeks out so diarise and set an alarm 21 days before you want to go. A great New York night out. you will not be disappointed.