There’s a family that comes to Ridgewood’s Café Esencia every week and orders the eight dollar, six-foot long churro: wrapped in an elegant coiled swirl and centered by a cup of sugar.
It is crafted elegantly, per the instructions of owner Andrés Castelló, who had set out to evoke the distantly sunny past of southern Spain. (particularly the mythic pre-Inquisition “La Convivencia” period; the café’s Kickstarter campaign reads: a place where “three great cultures coexisted…leading to an awesome flourishing of flavors, aromas, and essences.”) True or not, his churros are among the best in the city.
They can be purchased in a variety of sizes and even its largest snake-sized portion can be acquired for under ten dollars; the recently opened café is part of the wave of cheap eats that currently dot Ridgewood. It’s a welcome addition. Those churros are fluffy delight, a combination of sourdough and sugar that melts in your mouth.
Like people, cafés are islands in the sea of noise, and it is good and well that these once abandoned buildings in the neighborhood now host some of the best food in the city: an archipelago of artisanal effects that includes the city’s best-named pizza joint (the Michelin-ranked Houdini Kitchen Laboratory) to Queens’ only appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (ditto, Bunker).
Café Esencia is close to fitting in among these but is, for now at any rate, both cheaper and less crowded and closer to the M train, soon to be among the region’s few links to the outside world.
Make a beeline.
Cover photo courtesy of Andrew Karpan