In California the word “taqueria” can be loosely translated into English as a restaurant that serves tacos and burritos. However, when you dine at La Esquina Taqueria in San Luis Obispo, you know you are going to be able to get classic Mexican dishes. Their take on the classics make La Esquina unique and well worth a visit as my wife and I found out on a recent Sunday night.
Tucked away in The Creamery and is off the street, La Esquina is a little hidden gem. It’s best to park in the lot next to Ciopinot on Nipomo Street and you’ll see the restaurant there, facing the parking lot. La Esquina is actually owned by the same couple who own Ciopinot, Leonard and Wendy Cohen.
When you open La Esquina’s menu you’ll find the basics such as tacos, fajitas, enchiladas and chile rellenos. Although there is nothing special about that, but, a closer look reveals what makes La Esquina stand out. Don’t want the standard beef, chicken or pork tacos? How about oyster tacos? Sure, you’ve had chile rellenos, but I’m willing to be you have never had one with fresh Dungeness crab.
Our divine dinner started with a cocktail. If you’re just looking for a sipping tequila, you’re in luck, whether you prefer a blanco, reposado, anejo or mezcal. They have over 80 to choose from. We decided to start with a margarita. La Esquina’s choices include peach ginger and the Barbarita, with mango puree and chipotle infused tequila. My wife played it safe and decided on the Original 1941 Margarita made with Silver Hornitos tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice, shaken. I wanted a little more kick, so the Pineapple Mezcal Margarita was my choice. The use of house made sweet & sour, along with lime juice and a pineapple infused Sombra Mezcal was a win and I feel mine was the better of the two.
In my opinion a good quality Mexican restaurant has to get chips and salsa right. And La Esquina didn’t disappoint. The chips were freshly made and the salsa was perfect.
For appetizers, we liked the sound of the freshly made tortilla soup or perhaps the papaya salad. Hand’s down, the salad turned out to be delicious! It was both tasty and refreshing, containing butter leaf lettuce, arugula, avocado, strawberries and sliced papaya topped with a papaya seed dressing.
For a main course our server, Moriah, let us know about the daily specials, which included Thai Prawn Tacos and Surf & Turf Fajitas. The service was fantastic, by the way, and she was knowledgeable about the food, helpful and efficient.
My wife ordered prawn tacos – the regular ones, not the Thai special. The prawns were sautéed in garlic and served with Monterey jack cheese and salsa verde on the side. I probably wouldn’t normally order fajitas, but La Esquina’s description of their Oaxacan pork version sold me. The meat was seasoned with a variety of chiles, plus garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon.
I loved the flavors in my dish. My only critique would be that they seemed a little restrained on the spices. I feel like a little extra pinch of this or that wouldn’t be overdoing it. So if you like your flavor to be turned up a notch, you should probably tell them at the time you order.
Moving on to dessert, I gave the Chocolate Mousse Stuffed Taquito a try. This delight consisted of deep fried flour tortillas stuffed with house made chocolate mousse and rolled in cinnamon and sugar and it was simply, delicious. The ridiculous amount of whipped cream they put on the top would be loved by many, but was unnecessary for me.
Whether you decide you want to try something new or just want to grab a good cocktail and a good quality appetizer, I would highly recommend giving La Esquina Taqueria a try.