A stone’s throw from Oxford Circus, nestled in the streets of Soho, the Latino party bar and restaurant known as Barrio Central has added a little more geographical accuracy to its name and re-launched as Barrio Soho. But that’s not all – Barrio Soho has been treated to some hefty cosmetic work with a full refurbishment. Its brand new interior still compliments that of its siblings’ aesthetics (Barrio North and East) with vivid psychedelic colouring and strong Caribbean overtones. However, it now has a more chic and polished finish to the interior design.
The menu has also had a little bit of an overhaul too thanks to the newly appointed head chef Ernesto Pavia. So it seemed fitting that on the launch night of their new festive December menu, we should head down to the west end to see what the Latino eatery had on offer to help spice up the influence of the drab British weather.
The restaurant has an enticing ambiance with its brightly coloured interior muted by subdued atmospheric lighting. It has the kind of atmosphere that compliments or boosts pre-party antics and with live music and DJ’s downstairs, could just be the venue to see the party through to the wee hours.
After been seating by an amiable member of staff, we were informed that the nachos were a highlight of the Barrio menu, so it seemed rude not to order at least two portions. On arrival it was obvious that there was no chance of fighting for the last scraps of sauce in this part of town, each portion came with a bountiful heap of fresh and tasty toppings. ‘Shep’s Delight’ (£8.50) featured tender, mildly spiced pork with roasted pineapple salsa, and for the vegetarians in the group, ‘Queso Queso’ (£8.00) offers ample helpings of crumbled blue cheese and cheddar in addition to the standard nacho accompaniments.
Along with the nachos, we decided upon ‘Calamares’ (£6.50) which featured some deliciously tender market fresh squid in a light batter that was complimented with a spicy chipotle chili mayo. Barrios tacos were also bang on point, with soft, fresh tacos filled with tender pork. For the heat junkies, there is plenty of opportunity to amp up the spice of any dish with the array of chili pepper sauces that adorn each table, perfect for all members of the party to tailor their heat requirements.
A clear winner in the Barrio repertoire has to be their comprehensive cocktail menu, boasting a vast array of delicious concoctions, from classics-done-well to something a little bit different. ‘Tommy’s Margarita’ was the first on our ‘to try list’ and it didn’t fail to impress. It was a fine example of a traditional cocktail executed well (a good indication of Mexican drink competence). The ‘Caipirinha’ was up next, and this lime and tequila based drink seemed to be Margarita’s sugary sister, much easier on the palate if you find the bitter notes of the classic too over powering. If rum is more your thing, then there is plenty on offer from a ‘Hula Colada’ to a ‘Papa Don’t Peach’ which is bound to please those with a devilishly sweet tooth. All of these cocktails were part of the happy hour deal (Sunday – Thursday until 8pm, Friday and Saturday till 7pm) making each cocktail only £5 a pop, which is a super price to get the party started.
Be sure to take advantage of their January offer, which promises 50% off the bill, so you and you gang can shake up January with some fun Mexican delights in a lively setting, guaranteed to rid you of those post-Christmas blues!