Lower East Side Gem: Barrio Chino

In the past two weeks my wife and I have had a chance to explore the Lower East Side. Our good friend, Lauren lives below Houston and she and August gave us a great tour of some bars and clubs down there. But what really got me is where the four of us had dinner before hoppin. We met them on Broome between Ludlow and Orchard. They couldn’t remember the name of the place so I when we got there, a rush of excitement ran through me. It was Barrio Chino. I had heard about this place a month or so before. There was mention of the best margaritas around and I remember telling myself that we had to give it a go before summer came to a close. Then my running a restaurant took over and I completely forgot.
Well, thanks to Lauren and August we were able to experience it just in time. Fall is right around the corner and all I will be thinking about is red wine and winter whites…oh, and scotch. Barrio Chino is a very small place with a rough-around-the-edges yet sexy look that fits perfectly into the Lower East Side. It has decorative Chinese flare hanging on the walls and from the ceiling to give props to the Chinatown border on which they reside, yet it focuses on Latin cuisine, hence, the name Barrio (neighborhood) Chino (Chinese). The menu is simple yet thorough within their theme, offering a wide range of traditional dishes with little nuances to make the items unique. The drink list that I had heard about is offered at the tables and written in sharpie on cut up pieces of produce or beer box cardboard. I had the grapefruit margarita and I must say it was spectacular. My wife had sangria, which was actually really good. I wasn’t daring enough because of the night ahead of us but next time (there will many next times here) I am going to go for the jalapeno infused margarita.
The food is excellent. The portions are a bit tiny but when you bite into them that don’t matter anymore. The steak in my soft-shell tacos was absolutely amazing. The reason I say this is because the meat in these types of dishes can sometimes be dried out. Whoever they get their meat from knows how to take care of it. And, actually, in the end I was diggin’ the fact that everything was bite sized. I think that when you have ingredients this fresh and with so much flavor you don’t need to pile it onto a plate and compensate for compromised taste. Also when you see the menu initially and notice the prices you think it is going to be a huge New York sized portion. This is soooo not the case, and I welcome it. I would rather pay more for smaller portions of quality ingredients than less for less.
Barrio Chino is a great place. The food is excellent, the drinks are fantastic and the service is right on par with a good time. Thank you Lauren and August. My wife and I recently went back but instead had the brunch. I had another one of those grapefruit margaritas (I couldn’t help it, they are so damn good) and the huevos con chorizo. Get it. It is amazing. They serve the little tacos separate in a warm napkin with a side of salsa verde and its do-it-yourself from there.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by B.R.A.T.S. on September 20, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    I just read about you on MUG – wanted to tell you about an upcoming “Beaujolais Boat Cruise” on Sept. 29. It’s open bar (full bar) but also an opportunity to taste Beaujolais & Beaujolais Crus as the yacht sails through the East River & “parks” at the Statue of Liberty at sunset. Cool, wine-curious people aboard. Call me at 718-302-7414 for more info if you are interested.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Leigh on September 20, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    right on with the portion vs. flavor idea. so you know my life is all about cooking right now, and my dream is to open a restaurant…but I refuse to pay into the idea that I have to give glutonous americans a pile of something cause they are shelling out some moolah! It’s part of the obesity problem we got going on in this country right now. Flavor flavor flavor baby!!!!!!!!!!!! missing new york, and all the cool places to hang, but lovin my pool and culinary school. keep up the blog.

    Reply

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