I walked into Barrio the other night expecting Capitol Hill cool and the place delivered in spades. The entry is of the super-secret variety, with a large metal handle on the farthest left of the tall wooden doors the only clue. Once inside, it’s a big space nicely divided into different dining areas, including seating along the open kitchen. The large, curving bar with a sort of mosaic surface dominates the center of the main space. Given that Barrio and Purple Café share the same ownership I wasn’t surprised to see all of the metalwork and feel a similar heft in the heavy bar stools and napkin rings. Happily, though, there is enough wood to balance the chilly feeling that can come with too much dark metal. The enormous wall of candles has tremendous visual impact and certainly helps to warm up the interior as well.
It was absolutely packed; apparently others had also heard about the phenomenal happy hour. Big kudos to the host who was incredibly helpful and made room for three of us at the bar. The drink specials are varied and include a well-priced Tecate, margarita, sangria, caipirinha, and my favorite, the Brown Derby with bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey. From there we dug into guacamole, shredded chicken tacos with queso cotija, and drunken bean tacos with green cabbage salad and avocado salsa. The real star of the night, though, was the Chilaquiles del Dia, a hearty serving of tortilla chips layered with asparagus, chorizo bacon, queso fresco, and topped with a fried egg.
I’ll look forward to coming back on another evening when the din of the happy hour rush has quieted a bit, and I can dig into the rest of the menu. Some of the things I have my eye on for the next trip to Barrio: Ancho Roasted Baby Beets and Queso de Cabra, the Pozole, and most definitely that day’s Chilaquiles del Dia.
[Photo courtesy of Barrio]