Thursday, March 30, 2006

On the Corner of Trendy and Mexican


I love Mexican food. Love it. There’s nothing better than a basket full of salty tortilla chips, a big bowl of fresh guacamole and an ice cold margarita to wash it all down. So when I wait months to book a table at a trendy Mexican eatery like La Esquina, I expect nothing less. Or not.

When we finally arrived at the infamously hard to get into restaurant, we were greeted by a man clad in black with a list and a clipboard slouched in front of a dirty door with an “Employees Only” sign in the middle of a nondescript taco stand. Interesting. Any undiscerning tourist would have been fooled except for the number of ultra hip people crowded outside smoking cigarettes. After we assured the intimidating man that resembled Mickey Rourke of our reservations, we descended down a decrepit staircase through a bustling kitchen and into a cavernous space filled with a trendy crowd of fashion types, LA expats and girls like us on a night out. Liev Schriber made a cameo dressed casually in a hoodie and jeans; he actually was pretty cool and low key, which made my friends and I wonder aloud what he was doing with a frigid Aussie like Ms. Watts.

At first glance my friends and I were charmed by the eclectic scene and ambiance. The trek down was like a mini adventure that would amuse any jaded New Yorker. But once my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, the façade slowly fell away and I was left with an honest look of what surrounded me. To be honest, the place was gimmicky like Pirates of the Carribean the ride with candelabras that seemed to have been dripping since 1852 and an overly aged décor. Unfortunately the drinks didn't do the trick of deception since our mojitos tasted as if they were from Pleasure Island too, pretty much a concoction of Rose’s lime and crushed mint. Delish.

And the menu wasn’t any better. Glorified bar food under the alias of “Mexican,” it offered quesadillas, tostadas, flautas and some main courses that looked too complicated to try. And get this. No guac. Nada, zip, zilch. Not counting the side dish of “avocado” my glorious dip was no where to be found. What kind of Mexican restaurant is this? The surprisingly fast service made me wonder if maybe they just want to kick you out. And I had no problem with that. Most the food was tasteless or too spicy or too fried, just bad overall. Mucho disappointing.

The best thing about the place is the covered porch for smokers. Brilliant.

Final Word: Might as well go and try it for yourself to experience the walk through the kitchen (quite entertaining) but next time I’m craving sceney guacamole I’ll go to Mexican Radio next door. La Esquina (corner of Kenmare and Lafayette, 636.613.7100)

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God, there's nothing more trendy and awesome than a great Celebrity at a hip Mexican restaurant.

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