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Thursday, September 06, 2007

La Esquina

Here's a place steeped in buzz, controversy, stories and articles. 106 Kenmare was the home of the Corner Deli, a mom and pop operation since 1932, set up in a tiny wedge shaped diner in a neighborhood now known as NoLita. Click here for a look inside. The place was purchased by partners Serge Becker (Lure Fishbar, Area, B Bar, Joe's Pub), architect Derek Sanders, Cordell Lochin and restaurateur James Gersten. It is now home to La Esquina - both a street level Tacqueria (with a menu developed by Café Habana founder Richard Ampudia) and a restaurant located underground. The restaurant downstairs is where the controversy lies - some even calling the Tacqueria a front for the restaurant. The entrance is a door marked "Employees Only" leading via a convoluted route past a kitchen downstairs to a subterranean dining room with a unique decor (I have not been there). Bouncers, lists - the scene is reminiscent of the nightclub days of the 1980s with their "exclusive" admittance policies (e.g. Studio 54, Mudd Club et al.). But I am intrigued and will investigate getting into the restaurant. When I first visited the Tacqueria soon after it opened in 2005, the place was insanely packed. Lines and chaos prevailed. Since then, things have calmed down and getting a meal there is now a much more civilized affair. Our office gets lunch there regularly and it has become a favorite. You can take out or eat outdoors at the small tables ...

6 comments:

Lucy said...

Seems like Serge Becker is a huge factor in downtown nightlife...

Brian said...

Apparently so. And there is competition.

rchrd said...

So, what happens in winter? I don't think I would want to sit outside, no matter how hot the salsa

Carlos Lorenzo said...

If the Tacqueria frontdoor looks great as well as the story behind this corner, the intrigue about the secrecy of the place downstairs gives your post the final touch to create an atmosphere. I will be waiting for the next chapter :)

• Eliane • said...

And now, I want to see what's going on downstairs...

edEx said...

I was there once, downstairs. It's nice down there, but kinda creepy-like.