La Esquina’s Pepito Torta May Not Be Authentic, But Has Its Charms

You know how you have that list of places you keep meaning to check out for lunch and then keep pushing to the back of the list as laziness and other options overtake you? Or is that just me? Anyway, La Esquina up in the greater Soho/Nolita area on Kenmare (at Lafayette) is one of those places for me. Every time I see a posting on their tacos or tortas I think “I should go eat that,” and then I don’t. Well, I remedied that the other day and was glad I finally made the subway ride.

There are only three tortas to choose from compared to the seemingly endless list of taco fillings that surprisingly include things like lengua. I went with the pepito torta ($8.50) that contains steak, lettuce, tomato, some black bean spread, what was supposed to be jalapeno but tasted suspiciously like cactus, and some chipotle mayo (that was supposed to be chimichurri, according to the menu). So, if you don’t mind some impromtu substitutions, this sandwich is pretty good. My only complaints are that the baguette-like bread it’s served on is super chewy and when combined with the steak within makes for a difficult eating experience. This is not recommended for eating anywhere other than a table.

I really wanted a paleta to go with but alas I had to take the train back to work and refuse to eat popsicles on the subway. Instead, because summer is nearly over, I went with the elotes callejeros ($2.75), otherwise known as grilled corn on a stick with mayo, cotija cheese and some chili powder slathered on. This gigantic ear of corn would make an excellent meal in itself along with a taco or two.

You don’t even have to walk inside the place if you don’t want since there’s this handy window. I saw a few people with pets not allowed inside utilizing this. There is a counter inside for seating but if you want an actual table you have to go to the slightly more expensive sit-down part of La Esquina next door.  I hear that if you get the torta in that part of the restaurant it comes with fries, so even though prices are a couple of bucks more it may be worth it.

This isn’t really a sandwich worth getting on the train for but if you work nearby it’s worth a trip. The tacos also looked pretty good and definitely come out faster than the sandwiches. The only downside is you’re probably going to break the $10 barrier if you order more than two of them.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I always feel really hip while I’m here ordering my gussied up Mexican street food.
  • Prices are pretty cheap for Soho.
  • They have a wide array of paleta flavors.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Paying more than $3 for a taco is madness.
  • The sandwiches are a tad on the small side for the price.

La Esquina, 114 Kenmare St. (at Lafayette), (646) 613-1333


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