NYC is not known for great Mexican food. That being said, a few spots stand out in the otherwise barren land of Mexican restaurants, and La Esquina happens to be one of them (Dos Caminos is another – check out their stellar guacamole here). The restaurant sits on a random corner in Soho (hence the name which means “the corner” in Spanish), hidden underneath an unassuming taco shop. Once inside, the warm and lively, if not a tiny bit claustrophobic, atmosphere wins you over and then they bring the corn. It’s not any backyard variety grilled corn on the cob, this is elotes callejeros – sweet grilled corn slathered in a creamy lime sauce, rolled in cheese, and sprinkled with chili powder. And it is good.
Elotes callejeros is one of those dishes that’s hard not to like – it’s sweet, crunchy, salty at once. It’s served on the street in Mexico, and I’m sure Mexicans would have a good laugh at the idea of it being sold at a Manhattan restaurant for $5 an ear. However, seeing that I have no plans to visit Mexico in the near future, making it at home for a fraction of the price seems like a good compromise.
The dish couldn’t be easier to replicate at home and it’s perfect for these end of summer days while it’s still quite hot, and gnawing on an ear of corn hits the spot. The corn is grilled until just charred and the mayonnaise lime sauce helps the cheese really stick. Serve it hot off the grill, and it’s a great recipe for a Labor Day BBQ crowd. Use cotija cheese if you can find it, it’s a Mexican cheese that’s sort of a mix between halumi and feta – hard enough to grate and mild and salty in flavor. Traditionally cotija is made in the summer months, and if you have trouble finding it, feta is a fine replacement. Conversely, if you find yourself with a giant block of cotija after making this recipe, it’s a great substitution for Parmesan or feta over pasta, in salads, and as a tangy topping to soups and baked dishes.
5 minPrep Time
5 minCook Time
10 minTotal Time
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese*
- 2 ears ripe corn, shucked and cleaned
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- Preheat grill or grill pan.
- Combine mayonnaise with enough lime juice to make it smooth and thick enough to coat the corn (add too much lime juice and it will be so thin it will drip off the corn, making it difficult for the cheese to stick). Set aside.
- Grill corn, turning a few times, until just charred, about 5 minutes.
- Remove corn from grill and brush with mayo-lime sauce until well coated.
- Cover corn with cotija cheese and sprinkle with chili powder. Serve hot.
*Cotija cheese is a mild, Mexican cheese similar to feta. If you have trouble finding it, use feta instead.