Must-See NoLIta and Little Italy
by Christopher Wallace, 03/19/2013
La Esquina. Photo: Will Steacy
Tacos, Tortas and More
To hear a New Yorker tell it—especially one who has spent any time in the Southwest—the City has always been lacking in Mexican cuisine. When, in 2005, restaurateurs including nightlife impresario Serge Becker opened La Esquina Taqueria and Café, that antiquated truism began to show its age. Rightly so: occupying the remnants of a '50s-style greasy spoon at the southern tip of Petrosino Square (and still decorated with its neon sign, which reads, "The Corner"), the taquería serves delicious tortas, soups, tacos, margaritas and beer through its walk-up (or skateboard-up) window. The location is perfect for people-watching matinees.
Any lingering inferiority complexes about the state of Mexican food in Manhattan were blown away in 2010 when Dario Wolos pulled his taco-slinging VW Combi bus into a building on Elizabeth Street. Christened Tacombi at Fonda Nolita, this little bus is a replica of the surfside cart Wolos had run for five years in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. With a new chef, Luis Aguilar Puente, from Tortilleria Chispo in Tulum, Mexico, whipping up crowd-pleasing ceviches and short rib tacos—as well as some more exotic small bites and a host of searingly sublime salsas—the venue is now an NYC institution.