The bathtub-size Bloody Mary (called “Mamacita Maria”) is probably enough for two to share.
The offshoot of Manhattan casual Mexican La Esquina opened in midsummer, with a capacious side garden that became one of season’s most relaxing sights in Northside Williamsburg (even though there seem to have been some snafus with seating). The diner itself has been a string of restaurants over the last few years, most recently Relish. Now, it seems to be settling down into a pleasant culinary groove.
Eating in the ancient diner is like finding yourself in the ’50s.
The atmosphere is laid-back, with sunlight streaming between the slats in the Venetian blinds across dark-red Naugahyde booths and twirling seats along a Formica counter. The interior has been restored faithfully, which would make for a fun place to dine, even if the food were not particularly good.
Luckily, it is. The menu seems to have successfully translated Mexican antojitos into the American diner idiom, meaning that the selection of food and the prices seem completely appropriate to the setting. At brunch (Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), there are a couple of salads, some good guac, taquitos, egg dishes, soups (including a traditional red pozole), waffles, and a couple of tortas — not too much selection, nor too little, either.
At $8, the barrel-size Bloody Marys are spectacular, sprouting crudité and spiked with chilies. The guac needs some salt, but comes with tons of chips, and an open jar of the house salsa. At $5, as a friend and I noted, it should really be breakfast for two.
The guacamole is nearly as good as you hoped it would be.
The hamburgesa torta turned out to be a regular hamburger — but a very good and gloppy one, nonetheless.
The omelet filled with Oaxacan cheese and avocado was fluffy and buttery, and we also ordered — out of curiosity — the hamburgesa torta, wondering how they’d fit the hamburger patty or patties on the telera roll usually used for tortas. We needn’t have worried, since the thing was served on a regular hamburger brioche roll. No objections to the thick burger, done medium-rare and made with good meat, or with the multiplicity of toppings that made the thing a mess to eat.
All in all, a very satisfying brunch, all the more so since the place wasn’t too crowded, and seemed to have plenty of extra room to spare.
Brunch menu here.
Café de La Esquina
225 Wythe Avenue
Haven’t had such a fluffy, well-made omelet in a while.
The diner interior is exceedingly well-preserved.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 21, 2011