Pisco and a friend drove by what looked like a new restaurant on Friday, and decided to stop by and check it out. Turns out it was Barrio, a nuevo latino/small plates establishment. We asked our server how long they had been open, and she replied, “Today’s the first official day!”
With that in mind, we ordered a small spread of food as a first round, and decided to eat a bit, and then order more as we saw fit.
First impressions of the decor: large space, high ceilings, a long and curvaceous bar, visible kitchen. There is a large grid of oil lamps on one side (maybe a couple hundred?); Pisco wonders whose gets the job to light and extinguish them each night. The entry doors are massive, but allow large drafts into the room, so bad that we had to change tables ten minutes after sitting down.
We perused the drink menu, and the folded paper food menu. The drink menu fits into a neat slot built into underside of the table. Handy for you thirsty folk! It’s arranged by primary liquor: tequila, vodka, rum, etc. Pisco ordered a Toronto (rye, Fernet Branca); Pisco’s friend D ordered some drink with a cucumber in it. The Toronto was a hit – dry, tasty, and the right way to end a long work week; recommended.
We ordered four items off the menu: a pumpkinseed hummus, chorizo and egg taco (2), duck confit tamale, and churros with spicy chocolate.
The pumpkinseed hummus was bright orange, and had the texture of a dry (regular) hummus. Served with one bowl of corn chips, and another bowl of yucca chips (on request), it was a good start to the meal. Be warned that it packs a bit of heat on a long fuse; you won’t notice the warmth until you’re almost done with the bowl.
The chorizo and egg tacos arrived next, and they were the high point of the meal. The chorizo is house made: succulent, spicy, and not overly oily; it was the best chorizo I’ve had in ages. Accompanied by a gently fried egg, it was platonic ideal of a breakfast sandwich. Highly recommended.
The duck confit tamale came next, slathered in a dark, pasty sauce that looked like a mole. Mole it was not! The chef had charred a bunch of peppers, and then pureed the whole lot; it worked well with the duck, which was tender. Pisco has recently eaten an awful lot of good duck (in Beijing), so it cannot be said that this duck was off the charts, but the dish worked well.
Surprisingly full after just these three dishes, we ordered churros with hot chocolate sauce to end the meal. The chocolate was warm, rich, slightly spicy, and perfect. The churros, unfortunately, had been taken out of the fryer 45 seconds too early and they were a soggy mess inside. This did not stop us from devouring all 5 churros, mind you, but you could have dipped churro-shaped sawdust cakes into that chocolate and you’d still be delighted.
Service on the whole was quite good, considering it was their first day. Our server was earnest and attentive and intent on ensuring we had a good experience. We mentioned that the churros were a little undercooked (because I’d rather they find out from me than some more-widely-read reviewer), and they were taken off the bill. Classy.
Overall it’s a very good experience. We didn’t try too many of the dishes, so a trip back to sit at the long bar is definitely in the future.
1420 12th Avenue