Location: 145 Avenue C
Best Dish: The best dish was the baked mussels. We didn’t need to think it over or debate it, the baked mussels are hands down one the best mussel dishes we’ve had so far.
Overall: A charming lively space with rustic decor, delectable eats, and an energetic performance space.
The first thing you notice when you approach Esperanto at night is the lights. The exterior is flooded with festive yellow light. In this gray and black, brick and mortar city the bright green facade bathed in light is like a beacon, shining the way to good vibes. Don’t deny yourself, come in and be instantly transported to a small cantina. Wood accents and colorful artwork adorn the walls, it looks like every tropical vacation you’ve ever taken. The menu mirrors that feeling with offerings of the Caribbean and latin American treats.
The appetizer menu has something for everyone from simple guac and chips to that familiar staple deep fried calamari. We rarely order anything basic and dove right into the goat cheese plate. Little goat cheese medallions are encrusted with plantains and served on a bed of sauteed leeks topped with pico de gallo. The medallions are tasty alone but the sauteed leeks have an assertive sour flavor that is best enjoyed in small bites. The best way to eat this dish is by creating small perfect bites. Each item on the plate should be eaten simultaneously for the best flavor. The leeks cut down the richness of the cheese and the pico de gallo adds a burst of sweetness that makes the sour leeks more palatable.
If you’re not feeling so adventurous try the empanadas. The crust is crisp but soft inside and the filling is savory and delicious. The beef was our favorite but the veggie option was a surprising second.
We love seafood and had to order the mussels. The baked mussels are topped with garlic, parmesan cheese, and paprika and they are incredible. We’re not even sure there is a word that perfectly articulates how amazing the mussels were. Baked mussels like this, should be served everywhere.
On the night of our visit, one of the specials was a blue crab salad appetizer served with plantain chips. While we enjoyed the crab the chips were a little hard to chew. A crisp fresh tortilla chip may have been better. The crab, however, was delicious and great way to start off dinner.
Every culture has a tasty chicken dish and Esperanto’s Frango Da Casa did not disappoint. The chicken was juicy and moist, the coriander adobo sauce was absolutely delicious with the cilantro rice and roasted corn.
How do you pass up a grass-fed burger? You simply don’t! You order it and prepare to indulge in every single bite. Esperanto’s house ground, grass fed burger patty is a thick tender masterpiece and we made it better with cheese, bacon and a runny fried egg.
Oxtails don’t show up on every menu and when they do we have to have them. The oxtails were braised in a tomato red wine reduction then simmered with garlic, carrots, and onion.
After a good meal, you may want a sweet treat. We recommend the coconut custard. It’ slightly sweet and creamy with a decadent mouth feel
Esperanto is a fun lively space, the venue is bursting with good vibes and fun. On select nights musicians perform live with the occasional flamenco dancer accompaniment. While it is an interesting show the offbeat stomping of the passionate artists can be off-putting, but very festive. In that instance, we recommend ordering another drink or two and a round or mussels, it won’t make the room quieter but good food and drink are a hell of a distraction.
Esperanto is located at 145 Avenue C and Ninth Street in New York’s East Village. EsperantoNY.com. 212-