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Friday, January 21, 2011

La Esquina Criolla

(Ed: As of September, 2013, this place is still going strong. Prices have risen a little, but considering the top quality, it's still a bargain.)

My friend Garrett had just flown back from Berlin yesterday and wanted a hearty to meal to keep him awake until a normal bedtime. When he suggested steak AND said he was willing to go to Queens, the decision was automatic: La Esquina Criolla in Elmhurst.

This is my favorite Argentine steakhouse in the city (and more than one Argentinian I've talked to agrees with me) ever since the demise of Moments in Sunnyside, and the quality here is better than what La Porteña's has been for quite some time. And when it comes to price, La Esquina Criolla beats them all hands down. Pretty much everything is good, and if you want to buy some beef to take home and cook for yourself, there's even a butcher counter toward the back.

If you go--and I highly recommend that you do--a few random thoughts:

All empanadas are made in-house, and the beef ones are especially good--be sure to ask for them fried.

A grilled chorizo criollo (beef and pork sausage) or two makes a great second appetizer course (this is in addition to the other plate of sliced, grilled salsicha parrillera (a smaller pork sausage) they automatically bring you).

If you like blood sausage at all, order the morcilla--best Argentine-style morcilla I've ever had. The sweetbreads (mollejas) are killer, too.

The mixed grill (parrillada) is a great deal, but be prepared for tripe. It's the one thing on it I'm not particularly fond of, and they'll cheerfully replace it with something else if asked.

A great side is papas a la provenzal (potatoes tossed with garlic and parsley)--be sure to ask for them fried.

Skip the house wine (it's all right) and ask for a wine list. At 18 bucks a bottle, the Nieto Malbec Reserva is a fantastic value.  Unless, of course, you're alone, in which case a glass of better-than-decent malbec will set you back all of six bucks.

Asado de tira (beef ribs cut cross-wise, creating steak-like strips) and entraña (skirt steak) are the most popular beef offerings, and deservedly so.

(a chorizo criollo, a No. 6 combination plate - 2 tiras and ¼ entraña, and some fried papas a la provenzal... and yes, I like my beef a bit bloody)

La Esquina Criolla
94-67 Corona Ave., Elmhurst 11373

view menu (old--add a dollar or two to all prices)
(M or R train to Grand Ave., then Q58 bus to Junction Bld. Or the 7 train to Junction Blvd., then walk 8 blocks south.)

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