It starts when a friend implores you to eat downstairs at La Esquina, the subterranean brasserie branch of Derek Sanders's Mexican axis of Kenmare Street. The food’s cheaper and probably better at the walk-in-only cafe around the corner from the restaurant’s entrance—a door disguised by a taqueria counter and a sign that reads “Employees Only”—but there’s a certain category of New Yorker who thrives on having what others don’t. A reservationist will ask you if you’ve “dined with us before,” and in general, it takes knowing someone in the industry, smooth talking, or (velvet-rope flashback) looking good and confident at the door, to waltz in at prime time.
The reward is dining in a Mexican dungeon as styled for a Vogue shoot, complete with metalwork, distressed stone walls, and water dripping on the back of your neck (though the owners can probably thank the air conditioner for the added atmospherics). Making up the grinning crowd at secluded booths and in private cells (?): a healthy mix of models, cougars, and maybe John Mayer picking his way through red snapper ceviche, cauliflower and avocado taquitos, grilled octopus tostados, or a plate of tuna tartare with a tamarind glaze. If the food sounds light, you’re right; it’s playing to the delicious crowd.
This is, what "The New Yorker" wrote about this fantastic place!