There are actually plenty of weekend nights when I have no real event to attend and so I happily plan my night around a restaurant - eating out with a few friends and seeing where the night takes us. On nights like these, I just want to go to a place where I know I will get great food and drinks, but also be in a fun, festive setting. I am in search of a restaurant that will satisfy me, not financially drain me, and also encourage me to continue my night out. Esperanto is the perfect spot to make sure that I get all this and more!
Located on Avenue C and ninth street, Esperanto is a Brazilian restaurant that embodies the laid back attitude and culture of both alphabet city and South America. Even if you have reservations, they will probably make you wait 20-3o minutes - but this is never an inconvenience as their affordable bar will quickly mix up one of many authentic drinks on the menu. The delicious (and not too sweet!) mojitos and caipirinhas may take you straight to Brazil, but there may also be many entertaining reminders that you are just off of Avenue C. During my most recent trip to Esperanto, I was barely phased when the waitress had to escort a harmless, yet intoxicated man out of the restaurant. He had attempted to engage in conversation with our table at one point, however we couldn't quite work out what he was saying. Assuming he was eating at another table and was simply a little "lost," we soon realized he was never eating at Esperanto in the first place (and couldn't blame his state on the delicious cocktails). As we were all cracking up at the scene, I was reminded that you do not go to Avenue C without expecting some sort of commotion! Not only did he provide us with unexpected entertainment, but he indirectly gave us dessert - our embarrassed waitress brought out a delicious, complimentary coconut flan at the end of the meal.
I will admit that is not a typical night at Esperanto. But, on most any other occasions, you will find a restaurant full of groups of people laughing and enjoying their meals as much as we all were that night. The menu is extremely affordable and is designed such that most appetizers and side dishes can and should be shared. In particular, the Tapas Plate, consisting of grilled chorizo, tortilla Espanola, sardines, olives, lentil salad, and marinated baby shrimp, provides something for every one and gives you a great sampling of many of the local favorites. However, ordering the tostones (flattened plantain cakes sauteed in garlic - pictured above) are a must! These are amazing - and having previously thought I had sampled every version of prepared plantains, I was wonderfully surprised by this new discovery. It may even top my plantain list!
The main courses are all based around authentic Brazilian dishes - all of which are very hearty. I recommend the Feijoada - a traditional pork stew with beans served with collard greens. The pork is slow roasted, making it extremely tender and flavorful. I also think that they have a wonderful selection of shrimp dishes. My favorite is the Camerones de la Feria - shrimp and hearts of palm cooked in tomato and coconut milk. All dishes are served with rice and farofa - an authentic version of bread crumbs that you can voluntarily sprinkle on each dish. I really like the texture that it adds to the stew-like meals. Although we were all very full from our Brazilian feast, we couldn't resist the gift of the coconut flan. If you love coconuts, you will surely love this dish. While I would normally never have thought to order a dessert at a Brazilian restaurant, I will now have to think twice before turning away the list on my next trip to Esperanto. Thanks again, intoxicated mystery man!
Although we were sad that our meal had come to a close, it had been another memorable evening at on Avenue C. And, we knew our night had only just begun. As we headed out of Esperanto and onto our next destination, it didn't really matter where we ended up - the night had already been more than eventful.
145 Ave C
New York, NY 10009
Phone: (347) 329-4684