8.2
NYC

El Almacén

Perfect For: Birthdays Casual Weeknight Dinner First/Early in the Game Dates Literally Everyone
PHOTOS: Noah Devereaux

You know that feeling when you lose something dumb? You’re trying to leave your apartment, you’re running late, and you can’t find your keys. You’ve looked in all the spots they should be, you’ve looked in all the spots they shouldn’t be, and you have no idea how you could lose anything in an apartment that only takes you five seconds to cross. Then, after 25 minutes of confusion and expletives, you find them. They were sitting on the counter under a balled-up paper towel that you keep reusing because you finished the roll two days ago. You’d definitely already checked there twice. They just appeared out of nowhere.

Which is exactly how we feel about El Almacén. It’s the kind of satisfying, affordable, quality restaurant we’re always looking for and rarely find. And it’s been right under (or on top of) the balled-up grossness that is the Bedford L stop this entire time. Well, since 2009 to be exact. Back when the Bedford L stop was edgy, this place seems to have been pretty cool. Or at least cool enough that Madonna ate there once.

Fast-forward to present day and Madonna is definitely not eating El Almacén. But we are, and we’re bringing our friends. Because in this particular deadzone of Williamsburg, this casual Argentinian place actually feels exciting. Not because it’s super trendy, but because there are avocado fries, there’s a giant $24 steak, and there’s zero pretension.

Now that you know where to look, you’ll find El Almacén hiding up a flight of stairs. Don’t be scared off by the lace curtains - what’s behind them is a red-brick covered space that feels like the sort of cozy spot you’d stumble into on a random side street in Buenos Aires. Or at least, what we imagine that would be like. And whether you’re hitting it for a low-key weeknight date or a Saturday night with your crew, you’ll want to hang out here. I’m even considering it for my next birthday dinner. And I don’t f*ck around with birthdays.

As for the food, will it blow your mind? Probably not, but that’s also not the point. The point is that you can walk right into El Almacén pretty much anytime, have any kind of meal you want, and walk out happy. That $24 steak isn’t just extremely affordable, it’s extremely good. As are the hamachi crudo and fish tacos, paella and short ribs, empanadas and enchiladas, churros and chocolate lava cake. And that’s just dinner.

So the next time you get quoted a four-hour wait at St. Anselm for that now-overpriced butcher steak, come to El Almacén instead. Actually, just come here first. You always find your keys - but you don’t always find a restaurant like this one.

Food Rundown

Avocado Fries

If you voluntarily pass up fried avocado strips then we can’t help you. Get these or live a less happy life.

Guacamole

Your only excuse for not getting the avocado fries is if you want your avocado mashed up instead. But you could also get guacamole anywhere. Just get the fries, for god's sake.

Ceviche de Hamachi

A little plate covered in raw fish topped with jalapeños and onions. A good order if the rest of your meal is going to be heavy. Which it probably will be.

Empanadas

Don’t come to an Argentinian place and not get an order of empanadas. It’s disrespectful. If not to the Argentinians, then to yourself. These are hot little pockets of joy.

Tacos de Pescado

Not the greatest fish tacos you’ll ever eat, but definitely satisfying. You can get them fried or grilled, and they’re covered in a balsamic-y sauce and lots of slaw.

La Entraña

We’ve been in a long-term relationship with the St. Anselm butcher steak. But over the years, it’s gotten more and more expensive, while we meanwhile haven’t gotten any younger waiting hours for a table there every time. So we're breaking up with it. For this.

Churrasco

A larger rib eye, this steak is certainly solid, but we think you get more bang for your buck with the Entraña. It does come with a huge pile of truffle fries, if that sways your decision.

Churros

Yes. You want these. Badly.

Chocolate Cake

But you might also want this. Because you haven’t eaten a chocolate lava cake since 2008. And because it comes with dulce de leche ice cream. You're out of excuses.

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