Great Deals: El Ay Si

A random Saturday adventure ended up including brunch at El Ay Si, a fairly new addition to the Long Island City restaurant scene. Enticed by an inexpensive menu, friendly bartender and inviting brick and wood decor, we ended up having a traditional brunch with a twist.

The space is narrow and a little dark (I wonder if they have a backyard?), but super cozy and friendly. We started off ordering the with-brunch cocktail, which, at my friend Laurie's special request, was cranberry juice and champagne--a happy departure from the usual mimosa. It took us a while to settle on our dishes, but with some help from the waitress, Laurie ordered the eggs with papas bravas (we were intrigued by the sweet potato aspect of the dish), and I went with the X Sandwich, suckered in by the promise of Maple Irish Sausage. Both dishes were $9.

When food appeared, we were bowled over by the generous servings. The paps bravas were indeed interesting, and to my delight, my sandwich came with a side of chipotle aioli that had quite the rich and wonderful kick (I'd go back just for that, frankly). The sandwich was fresh and flavorful, and even though I got a little tired of the sweetness of the sausage, the chipotle aioli kept me going. And of course, who doesn't love tater tots...especially with some killer spicy sauce on the side?

Happy with our food (and fortified by some strong French press coffee), we decided to try one of their interesting-looking cocktails. Laurie tried the cognac version of the French 75 (cognac, lemon, sugar, cava), and I tried another (sadly not on the website) that I think had gin, basil, and muddled strawberries. It was delicious and kind of like drinking a strawberry salad.

Overall, it's definitely worth checking out. Reasonable, tasty, and friendly.

El Ay Si, 47-38 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.

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