Told you I was spending a lot of time in the East Village! I went to Esperanto, a Spanish place on 9th Street and Avenue C on Friday night. We were a party of six, so I made a reservation for 7:30 a few days beforehand - would recommend others to do the same, and try to shoot for an earlier dinner hour as the place gets PACKED and loud and after 8 pm.
That being said, they let the first arrival sit at the table (none of this "only complete parties will be seated") - probably because I confirmed the reservation the night before. The cocktail special was an excellent mixture of passionfruit juice and vodka that was slightly frozen - YUM. I also tried the mojito - I've had better; the rum didn't seem to be particularly smooth. Service was pretty good; the waitress recommended that we order the chocolate volcano souffle in advance so that it would be ready by the time we finished our entrees.
The group split a tapas plate, chorizo empanadas, and beef empanadas. The empanadas were tasty in a crispy shell - good, not spectacular and smallish. The tapas plate had a fish ceviche (good), lentil salad (good), olives, a piece of tortilla espanola (good, but small), and very spicy baby shrimp.
For entrees, there was the Esperanto steak (polished off by now-famous non-sharing husband), a shrimp stew with hearts of palm that was excellent, and I ordered the special, a stew of shrimp and fish in a peanut ginger sauce that was wonderful. Generous portions and came with white rice.
The chocolate volcano was a classically executed molten chocolate cake - very good. The passionfruit mousse was light and fluffy; good sour flavor. I did get a taste of coconut flan - very good as well.
Overall, this place isn't innovative or spectacular, but the food is solid and the place is fun. Good neighborhood hangout as well, I'd think.