New York City's Esperanto Celebrates 17 Years Of Garlicky Goodness

Brazilian-inspired Alphabet City staple Esperanto is celebrating its 17th anniversary all month long with 30 days of giveaways, cumulating in a final celebration party to be hosted on November 4 with an open bar, live music and a raffle.

While their flavor profiles have stayed the same, new arrivals have graced the space, like the newly-implemented Jugo, a cold-pressed juice bar concept that serves creations like Dr. Feel Good, a blend of pineapple, orange, grapefruit, lime and ginger.

The Esperanto décor has also changed since its inception, with the addition of brightly colored walls washed in lively shades of turquoise and yellow, paintings of birds and tree branches accenting the windows.

"Esperanto was created 17 years ago to celebrate the excitement and passion we had for all Latin culture," said Owner Dimitri Vlahakis. "It's changed over the years, but always in ways that we thought helped us be better neighbors in a lovely part of New York, and better represent the multifaceted cultures we love in South and Central America."

Signature appetizers include chayote salad, a blend of chayote, creamy avocado and hearts of palm, a bright kick of citrus with segmented oranges; Ceviches de La Casa are served with a choice of crab with avocado, corn, scallions, and lime citrus; shrimp with tomatoes, chipotle pepper and orange citrus; or red snapper with corn, peppers, onions and citrus.

Most tempting of all are the mussels roasted on the half-shell with baked with garlic, paprika, butter & parmesan cheese.

"The mussels have been on our menu for many years, it was created quite a long time ago. Stephan Gerville-Reache, Dimitri's late business partner, travelled often to South America, and learned of a similar dish during his travels, then worked with our chef here to create the dish," said Vlahakis.

Entrees include Frango de Casa, pan-seared chicken with cumin-coriander adobo sauce and topped with jalapeño butter, and Lombo de Porco, a juicy pan-seared pork tenderloin marinated in passion fruit and served with mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach. Various traditional stews include the feijoada, with Bahian pork and black beans, served with white rice and sautéed collard greens, and the Camarão da Feira, with shrimp, coconut milk, tomato and hearts of palm.

There are other unique dishes infused with cachaça—a distilled alcohol made from sugarcane juice—are the Pescado Esperanto, pan-seared market fish with a cachaça cream sauce, served with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach, or the vegetarian Caipirinha Rice Plate, rice cakes infused with cachaça and topped with roasted corn, black bean salsa and a side of sweet potato puree.

For brunch, consider Esperanto for Ovos Loisada, poached eggs atop a potato shrimp pie with Hollandaise, or a lighter Salada de Espinafre, with spinach, chickpeas and avocado, topped with coconut flakes and cashews and tossed in a citrus vinaigrette.

You can catch live music any day of the week from a multi-piece band: Monday-Thursday 7:30pm-10:30pm, Friday 9pm-12am, and Saturday and Sunday 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Esperanto is located at 145 Avenue C and Ninth Street in New York's East Village.

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