Although I grew up in Brooklyn, ever since moving back to New York in September I can count the number of times I have ventured to the borough on one hand. The reasons are simple–1) my family no longer lives there, 2) I’ve been thoroughly over-satiated with things to do on the island, 3) walking to work has made me a disgustingly lazy human who refuses to venture outside of walking/short cab riding distance and 4) the last time I went in the fall I realized that I was neither well dressed enough nor did I listen to enough non-Top-40 hits to not stick out like a sore thumb
That being said, I recently succumbed to being a real person who lives in New York City, rather than a bratty twenty-something who doesn’t leave the bottom third of Manhattan, and thus, gotten an unlimited MetroCard and sudden desire to explore cross-river (girl’s gotta get her money’s worth). When my friends from high school were having a party in Williamsburg this past Friday, I decided to not only go, but also check out the dining digs in the hood. I’ve loved every restaurant experience I’ve had in the area (The Meatball Shop, egg (OMG breakfast), Isa, oldie but goodie SEA) and was thuper thrilled to learn that NoLita fave La Esquina had opened a branch on Wythe Avenue. We made a reservation (For 4! At 9PM on a Friday! The day before! Take that, Manhattan), and after much debate centered around the question of What Does One Wear To Brooklyn? (Answer: The Same Thing One Wears To Manhattan But Definitely With A Vintage Bag And Slightly More Comfortable Shoes… And Perhaps Several Inches Longer Than Usual Since After All One Will Have To Take The L Train To Get There), found ourselves in a delightful little diner in Brooklyn.
[Diner Facade: Image c/o Eater NY]
Like the original Manhattan location, La Esquina Brooklyn is unimpressive from the outside. Instead of a deli, the upstairs room consists of a dimly lit diner, with the original Williamsburg Diner signage still hanging. After a drink at the diner bar, we headed to the back room to claim our table. The space was gorgeous–unlike the diner facade, exposed brick walls and liquor cabinets stacked to the ceiling with tequila surrounded the space. Black and white paintings hung in the dimly lit space, and upbeat salsa music permeated the room. Unlike the NoLita location, Brooklyn did not have a bouncer. Since one of my biggest pet peeves is “secret” restaurants with a bouncer (the massive black suited man standing outside an unmarked door on Kenmare Street miiiiight clue you off to the fact that this ain’t your old bodega, eh?), I was pleasantly surprised–even more so when the venue appeared only 2/3 full. Two points for Brooklyn.
[Surprise! Awesome Back Room. It’s like the opposite of a Ferrero Rocher, because even though those are my favorite candies, why would the worst part be the hidden one? Whooo wants the nut after you already have the chocolate? But I digress. And image c/o Eater NY]
The preliminary purpose of our dinner was drinking enough to have something to talk about with everyone we had known in high school, so rounds of Margaritas (not too sweet and lots of booze), wine ($8 by the glass) and vodka-sodas (a Ruski’s gotta stick to her roots) started our meal. For food, we ordered a bunch of small share plates, all of which were delicious. Had our waitress not resembled Carey Mulligan in demeanor and French Carey Mulligan in accent, I might have been pissed that we were given the wrong ceviche, or not brought out an order of taquitos, or that my first vodka-soda tasted like soda-soda (Carey quickly learned from her mistake and proceeded to bring me drinks so strong I needed a full lime to mask their flavor–attagirl), however, we were here for a) booze, and b) atmosphere, so I let it slide. The food we did get was delicious.
[Ceviche Nuevo: Striped Bass, Hearts of Palm, Fresno Peppers, Agave]
[Ceviche Acapulco: Skate, Shrimp, Tomato, Avocado, Jalapeño, Lime]
[Grilled Octopus Tostada: This was my favorite thing we got. So crispy and delicious–even cute. A shame we were eating that nuzzler]
[Taquitos with Smoked Mushroom/Taquitos Carnitos with Pork Shoulder]
Overall, La Esquina in Brooklyn was good–not great, but certainly good, and considerably less of a production than the Manhattan location, even factoring in the commute. I’m not rushing back, because if I am to go over the bridge again, I’d like to try somewhere new and ah-mazing. That being said, if I find myself in Williamsburg without dining plans (reasons this might happen: 1) I am at the flea market, 2) I am lost, 3) I was following Penn Badgley on the subway and got caught up), I will certainly hit up this faux-diner for taquitos and sangria galore–because the most important thing I learned in Brooklyn on Friday: Manhattan is a mere $15 cab ride away.