In the three years since Jesse Morreale bought the old First Avenue Hotel on Broadway, the two restaurants he's opened on the bottom floor of the property -- Sketch and El Diablo -- with chef and partner Sean Yontz have completely transformed the corner.
Sketch came first, a quiet wine bar that offers little more than fine meats and cheeses for food options. But when El Diablo opened a year ago, it gave the neighborhood a devilish, 400-seat Mexican restaurant and tequila bar with a huge menu and huge crowds, packing in everyone from families to hipsters, who come for everything from breakfast to booze at last call to a street taco after that.
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I've been drinking under El Diablo's elaborate murals and retro red lighting since just a few weeks after it opened. But for this week's review, I focused on the food, eating my way through Yontz's board, sampling tacos, tampiqueña and mole in the process.