A dumpy old corner deli transformed into what looks like a roadside tacqueria, La Esquina ("The Corner") features perhaps New York's most secretive restaurant (with a semi-unlisted phone number), hidden downstairs behind a door marked "employees only". While the tacqueria does have great tortas, tacos and enchiladas as well as fresh juices, it's a reservation at the lower level restaurant you want to score. How did this dumpy former Corner Deli manage to become a hidden underground haunt? By placing the 50-seat dining room behind a maze-like warren, in which you first pass through the kitchen, then a sort of locker room, then a few more twists and turns. Sounds exclusive, right? Now that we gave it away, maybe it seems less mysterious. Co-owned by Serge Becker and his triumvirate, these are the same chaps who made M.K., Bowery Bar, and Joe's Pub fixtures on the downtown scene. If you can't handle the exclusivity of a downstairs speakeasy, just head around the corner from The Corner to the café, which serves a fusion of the tacqueria and restaurant menu. Less attitude, modest prices and no need to reserve here. The atmosphere is warm and convivial, making these three venues score a triple crown.
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