I love Mexican food and I love sharing food. By sharing I mean a conscious decision by a group of us to order a few plates of different foods – not giving up a carefully ordered individual meal. But back to sharing. I headed to Soho with a friend one particularly thirsty Thursday evening to try out the new Mexican inspired menu at late night favourite, Barrio Soho.
They’ve just undergone a bit of a makeover (formerly called Barrio Central) and have a new head chef, Ernesto Pavia, from Bubbledogs and a three star Michelin restaurant in France before that. So he knows his stuff. Barrio steer clear of pretentiousness and create a friendly neighbourhood vibe just right for sipping cocktails and picking at nachos. The upstairs eating area got so busy that we were politely asked if our four person table could seat two other people. Of course we agreed but they probably regretted sitting with us once our food arrived. Plate after plate of tacos, fritas and quesadillas filled our half of the table and then piled over onto theirs. Sorry for the food envy.
The house speciality tacos were my favourite – we got the aubergine and the chorizo, both generously filled and nicely spiced with herbs and sauces. In fact there were so many little silver pots of sauces and dips that we lost track of which went with which dish but it didn’t matter – they all went with everything. None of the food was too spicy but the one thing I would say is that a couple of the dishes were very salty – we couldn’t finish the chicken wings or the orejitas fritas (crispy pig’s ears) for this reason. The refried beans sprinkled with feta were a nice neutral dish and sweet potato fries are always a favourite. Ceviche mixto was another favourite and if you’re curious about what cactus tastes like then do what we did and get the cactus quesadillas with melted cheese – they were pretty good. Drinks-wise the cocktail menu is grouped into new releases and ‘greatest hits’. The Brazilian Lady I had was refreshing with lemon and cachaca shaken up with egg white and topped with passion fruit and the Mojito was just how it should be.
As a venue, Barrio is a fun place for after-work drinks and something to eat. Drinks are their main feature but this new menu will probably mean that more people will head there for the food too. Staff were very friendly and attentive, keeping our drinks flowing and food coming – it’s nice to have table service in this style of bar. I recommend reserving a big table and getting a group of friends or workmates together, if you haven’t booked it’s unlikely you’ll get a spot to sit. Authentic and lively, Barrio is a great little spot to start your night in.