Sunday will be a sad day in Echo Park. It will be La Esquinita's last time open at 1261 Sunset Boulevard.
I got the tip that it would be closing from a Patch reader. So I went Wednesday afternoon to investigate—and get my final fix.
Word travels fast. The place was packed.
And it wasn't just one kind of person. There were two sporty guys chilling with a girl who was reading a book. A clan of '90s hipsters—of course—that looked like that had stepped off the set of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And an older man who came alone and sat next to a pile of newspapers laid on a table outside.
Even the L.A. Fire Department was there.
My group consisted of past, present and future roommates. Each of us had lived in a two-story house just a couple blocks away at some point or another. And for the first time, we were all eating lunch together.
In terms of our relationships with La Esquinita, we had a first-timer, a hardcore regular, a non-believer and a fair-weather fan. (See photos for visuals.)
I categorize myself as a fair-weather fan mainly because I tend to frequent the place only when I need it.
i.e. When I'm hungover. If you've been there, you get my drift.
THEY SELL SQUIRT PEOPLE.
But Squirt isn't the only highlight at this Echo Park gem. It's unassuming from the outside. But damn, does it deliver.
Let's start with the appetizers. Customers are always served perfectly baked, never-stale chips and FOUR kinds of delicious sauces free of charge. This element—I believe—is why people get so excited to bring their friends there. People love to flaunt anything free.
My favorite sauce combo is the green chili salsa and sour cream. A scoop of each on a crisp chip. Oral euphoria.
I always order the veggie sope. As my friend Amanda would say: "It is the best sope in town." (And she would know. She's quite the Mexican food connoisseur.) A combination of rice, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and guacamole toppling over a thick and fluffy tortilla makes for a filling lunch. And did I mention, it costs $4?
The menu is filled with other traditional goodies like chilaquiles, chile relleno, chorizo and egg tacos and more. So much more.
So. If it's that good, then why is it closing?
My table speculated:
"Maybe they never changed their prices and weren't making any money."
"Maybe this property is worth a lot of money."
"Maybe they weren't paying rent on time."
"Maybe is was just time for a new chapter."
And then, it was confirmed:
"Our lease wasn't renewed, so they didn't give us much of an option," said Vanessa Barajas, whose family has operated the Mexican restaurant in Echo Park for more than two decades. "Everyone wants to eat here before we close."
"Will you move somewhere else?" Amanda asked with a desperate look on her face.
"We haven't had time to look," Barajas responded, as she delivered our plethora of sauces.
Like I said, Sunday will be a sad day. But I'm going back tomorrow. Lunch anyone?