A review of Barrio, a new taco restaurant.
By Luke Eriksen, ’22.
Barrio Tacos moved into the space once home to the Winking Lizard on the Corner of W. Fifth Avenue and Grandview Avenue.
The Day of the Dead decor inside is immediately eye-catching and difficult to take your eyes off of at times. I was captivated just looking at the bizarre drawings of skeletons painted on every wall. There were also skeleton figures perched high by the string lights woven on the ceiling. The atmosphere was great, and it felt like the perfect place to hang out or watch a sports game.
Barrio offers customers a unique way to build their own tacos with a sheet containing all potential ingredients. The sheets contain sections such as shells, protein, cheese, toppings, salsa and sauces. For a first-timer, the build your taco menu is heavily overwhelming. With the thousands of different combinations and only a brief description of each topping, I found myself asking the waiter numerous questions. I was anxious to try the tacos I made—I could have potentially created tacos that don’t reflect the best flavors Barrio has to offer. Barrio also has a menu labeled El Jefe’s Selecciones which includes tacos already built with fan-favorite combinations, a benefit for first-timers. Even so, I found it genuinely fun to build my own tacos.
I ordered a total of five, each built with different toppings and unique flavors. They were wrapped in tin foil and placed in oval baskets ready for my love or scrutiny after a few bites. It was incredibly satisfying to create a taco with toppings that work well together, and I made notes of the perfect combinations and the toppings to ditch next time. After culminating this list, I am eager to go back to try new combinations while revisiting the tacos that I crafted perfectly. I am confident that with each visit, my order will improve each time until I am familiar with each topping and endless combinations.
The diced spice-rubbed chicken and the braised short rib were both excellent. Besides these two protein options, the menu includes several other types of meat that I am excited to try. Both the chicken and short ribs were perfectly complimented by the Chipotle Crema and Chipotle Honey BBQ sauce. The Salsa Roja provided also a sweat heat meant for the combination’s greatness and the corn salsa provided a necessary bit of crunch.
One of the best features of Barrio is the green goddess shell: a soft flour tortilla and a hard corn shell stuck together with queso and guacamole between them. The soft outside and the crunchy inside of the shell created a fascinating texture that goes well with any meat or combination of toppings. There are multiple variations of this shell, too, with chorizo or crumbled bacon instead of guacamole.
Out of these five, the creation I was most proud of was a simple shrimp taco in a soft flour tortilla. I added cilantro-lime rice, Chihuahua cheese, napa slaw, pineapple salsa and mango habanero sauce that elevated it completely. The sweet, spicy and fruity combination of pineapple and mango habanero was mouthwatering. A quality shrimp taco can be rare, especially in locations far away from fresh shrimp in the ocean, but Barrio certainly delivers.
Barrio exceeded my expectations with a unique set of flavors thanks to the sauces, and an exciting way to order tacos. I can’t wait to return and experiment with more of the toppings and what the menu has to offer. I highly recommend paying the newcomer restaurant a visit to challenge my own creation.