January 16, 2011

My Take on...Barrio

So, we made our third visit to the new Barrio (Cocina del Barrio, if we’re interested in being exact) in Edina on Friday night. With three visits in one month under my belt, I feel ready to comment.

Food: Excellent (best of all of the locations!).

Location: Even more excellent (perfect for stumbling, I mean, walking home this summer).

Drinks: Not quite as good as the other locations.

Noise: Terrible. The Edina location is so freaking loud. I realize I’ve been known to be a party pooper at times, but this location is LOUD. Very, very LOUD. My advice: drink quickly so that you don’t care for very long.

Crowd: It’s an interesting group of folks that this new Edina location is bringing in. Part “dressed like they are going out in NYC bachelorettes,” part “normal, quiet middle-aged couples,” part “I’m super wealthy in my fur coat middle-agers,” and then Zach and I. I guess I’m not sure why any of this surprises me for Edina.

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I have loved the other two Barrio locations since the early days in which they opened. One of my favorite restaurants in town for sure. A hip tequila bar with a menu mostly comprised of Latin street food (individual pork carnitas tacos, fried mahi mahi tacos, chicken enchiladas, etc.) and excellent margaritas. The quality of ingredients, preparation of the food, and presentation are all excellent—and for what you pay ($3-4 bucks per taco / enchilada), it’s a great value. The owners also own La Grassa, and the chef used to work at La Belle Vie. Enough said.

The must-haves:

The Trinity: My favorite margarita. Ever. For some reason, it hasn’t been as good at the Edina location any of the times I’ve been there. It’s missing something—I think it’s too light on the lime juice. It just doesn’t have the tangy kick it has at the other locations. It’s also slacking on the salt. But it’s still strong. J And at the other locations, it’s perfect.

Chips and Guac: I’d flag these as the best chips in town—they have a hit of cumin, they’re perfectly greasy, and they’re perfectly salted. The bowl always empties itself. The guac is just what guac should be—fresh, cool, and creamy with the perfect amount of cilantro. And I, personally, love the radishes on the top.

Pork Carnitas Taco: I think if I had a top five favorite foods list, this might make it onto it. This taco is perfection. Two soft corn tortillas topped with carnitas, green salsa, and a scattering of chopped onions. The carnitas is delicious—juicy and tasty with crispy edges. It’s meant to be eaten as one taco, but I outsmart the system and eat it as two tacos because there is enough filling to do so. So ha!

Chicken and Black Bean Tostada: I’m always surprised at just how good this is when we get it. Listing the ingredients out just doesn’t do it justice, but here goes. It’s a crispy tostada topped with a thick layer of pureed black beans, sweet and spicy chicken tinga, shredded lettuce, finely grated Mexican cheese, and mango habanero salsa. It’s really refreshing, but super high on flavor. Delish.

My take on the differences between the three locations:

Downtown: A little more bar-like than the other two locations; can be crowded; very dark inside; and I think the food is better at the other locations. But, one of my top recos for a first date place in the Twin Cities.

St. Paul: Easier to get in; has a more relaxed vibe; food and drinks are both great here; and I can’t forget to mention, good people watching late night on the weekends when they clear out room for a dance floor!

Edina: Best food of all locations (and larger menu); interesting assortment of people; very loud; very hard to get in right now; and I think the drinks are better at the other two locations. But because it’s three blocks away, the chances of running into us are high. J

Barrio, I heart you. Please don’t ever leave me.

Cocina Del Barrio on Urbanspoon

Barrio Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

Barrio on Urbanspoon


  1. fun blog, sy-c!
    tried barrio (edina) a few nights ago based on your excellent review. your take was spot on (although i'd add the red chile braised pork tamal to your must-have list!).
    we'll be sure to check back prior to our next night on the town!

  2. I'm going to the Edina one tonight for the first time for dinner, I can't wait! Being that I work downtown, I hit up that location far too often for my waist line's liking!