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Estela

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

47 E. Houston St., New York, NY 10012 40.724659 -73.994707
nr. Mulberry St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-219-7693 Send to Phone

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  • Price Range: $$$

    Key to Prices and ratings

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    • Generally Excellent
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    • Good
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  • Critics' Rating: **

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review
Photo by Jenny Westerhoff

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Official Website

estelanyc.com

Hours

Mon-Thu, 5:30pm-11pm; Fri, 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sat, 11:30am-3pm and 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sun, 11:30am-3pm and 5:30pm-11pm

Nearby Subway Stops

B, D, F, M at Broadway-Lafayette St.; 6 at Bleecker St.

Prices

$15-$34

Payment Methods

American Express, MasterCard, Visa

Special Features

  • Brunch - Weekend
  • Dine at the Bar
  • Notable Wine List
  • Online Reservation

Alcohol

  • Full Bar

Reservations

Recommended

Profile

When it opened in 2013, Estela looked, on first inspection, like all the other undersize, overcrowded bar-≠restaurants that were then multiplying around town like rabbits in this post-gourmet age. The walk-up space, on a scruffy stretch of East Houston, is the size of a narrow truck garage. The brick walls are mostly devoid of decoration, unless you count the yards of exposed ductwork snaking along the ceiling. The menu (15 Mediterranean-themed items, plus assorted salumi and snacks) seems to have been designed less with a proper dinner in mind than to complement a cocktail or a glass (or three) of wine. And in the grand tradition of tiny bar-restaurants everywhere, the best seats in the house are at the bar itself, which is topped with white marble, accommodates 14 people comfortably, and tends to fill up for good after seven o’clock. Unlike most of the clamorous new bar joints around town, this one serves small, perfectly crisped croquettes stuffed, in the classic Spanish style, with blood sausage; and plates of plum-sweet scallops, which were spritzed with wedges of orange and lemon and taste like they’ve just been brought up from the sea. The seared razor clams I enjoyed one evening at the bar wouldn’t be out of place at one of the better tapas establishments on the Costa Brava. The soft, chunky cod had the simple, satisfying quality of good Spanish home cooking, and so did the mussels escabèche, which are set individually on little finger-size wedges of toast, spread with fresh aïoli, and served in a bowl pooled with olive oil and vinegar. The man responsible for these treats is a talented, peripatetic chef named Ignacio Mattos. We last saw Mattos at Isa in Williamsburg, where he dabbled in various audacious haute-forager experiments (spelt soup, beef tartare with sunchoke cream and crème fraîche, the crisped skeleton of a single sardine). Critics liked the food, but the locals, apparently, did not, and he was canned after a few months on the job. He’s learned from this dismal experience, creating a cleaner, more satisfying, and less consciously fussy style that’s captured the taste buds of the city’s gourmands. The ricotta dumplings are by far the best of the four entrée-style dishes at Estela, but if you’re in the mood for something slightly more substantial, I suggest the culotte steak, which has the consistency of good filet and is plated with Bayley Hazen cheese and parsley. The accomplished, cocktail list is just four drinks long, and the eclectic wine list (as curated by former Blue Hill at Stone Barns sommelier Thomas Carter) has the variety and quality of that of a restaurant twice the size.

Reservations

Estela’s online booking system takes reservations 30 days in advance. The bar/dining counter is reserved for walk-ins only.

Recommended Dishes

Mussels escabèche and/or scallops, steak tartare, ricotta dumplings, grapefruit sorbet with Campari. 

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