You have Tacocracy, the hard-to-pronounce, anti-establishment taco joint, that fills their tacos with potatoes and very un-taco-like fillings, surrounded by old airplane doodads in an old goth bar.
Then, you have Django Western Taco, with its cowboy flair, serving either individual or family-style tacos and a variety of other tex-mex inspired dishes, including chiles rellenos and stone bowls.
The newest taco joint in Northside goes full on luchador, with black and red decor and calaveras (think the black-and-white mexican sugar skulls from Dia de los Muertos) and a menu that includes a variety of tacos, burritos and appetizers. Barrio Tequileria is owned by the folks that bring you the Taco Azul food truck, home of my very favorite food truck taco, the bulgogi taco (which, unfortunately, is not on the menu at Barrio– they are going for authentic LA here).
Four of us popped in after an event at Pallet 23, and at 7 PM on a Thursday, it was quiet, filling up slowly as the evening wore on. Our busser came by with water and wholeheartedly endorsed the elotes, which are something I love that I rarely find on menus in Cincinnati: grilled corn (on or off the cob; I choose off) with chipotles, mayonnaise, cotija and lime. My group of four got two orders (it’s a small order for $3) as well as guacamole to share. God bless Nada for upping the guacamole quotient in Cincinnati when they opened, since before that I’m not sure anyone realized what good guacamole could be. Barrio’s is standard– avocado, lime, garlic– but very fresh and very good.
Drinks were had all around– I went with the reposado margarita, which is on the tart side and not too sweet (which I appreciate). I tried a sip of my friend’s El Diablo (tequila, creme de cassis, ginger beer and lime), which was refreshing, and just a touch sweeter than my margarita. Their cocktails, developed by Lindsey Laubenstein (formerly of Enoteca Emilia and smoQ) are all fresh– no mix here– and it shows.
Tacos were ordered, served on a large, round tray. I ended up with a lengua taco and a camaron taco, while friends grabbed pescado tacos and carnitas tacos. The carnitas were deemed the favorite of one friend (who also ordered camaron tacos), and my pescatarian friend (with the fish tacos) really loved the beer-battered cod and slaw combination. My favorite was the lengua, which was well-seasoned and super tender, and I loved the slaw on the camaron, but my major complaint is that the tortillas did not quite hold up to the not terribly saucy tacos, making them a bit difficult to eat. All three of us had problems with the flour tortillas. No matter– we still used our forks to eat what fell out, but ask for an extra napkin or two.
On the way to the restrooms, I got a peek of their back patio which opens this weekend for Cinco de Mayo. It has a full bar, tons of seating, and agave plants dotting the whole area– it’s a tiny bit of LA or Mexico in the middle of Northside.
Check it out– it’s chill and laid-back, but unlike pretty much any other taco restaurant in Cincinnati, takes reservations on OpenTable– so no wait if you plan ahead a bit.