Review: Barrio Tequileria

barrio tequilera Northside is the epicenter of the Cincinnati Tacosphere. Fact.

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.

Barrio Tequileria on Urbanspoon

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.barrett.50 Matt Barrett

    Thanks for the review. I look forward to trying this place. I also want to say that people who eat fish aren’t vegetarians. I was looking forward to what you were going to say about the vegetarian tacos, but then was bummed when you mentioned fish.

    Anyway, I dig your blog much.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      Ack, sorry. She’s a pescatarian– I’ll correct that. They had plenty of straight-up vegetarian options too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/LindsayJohanna Lindsay Laubenstein

        I once was explaining to somebody that “technically, I’m pescatarian” when one of my servers turned dead in her tracks and asked, “Did you just say you were Presbyterian? Because you don’t strike me as that…” hehehe

  • Nikki Mayhew

    Julie, are they using that fabulous outdoor space? Gajah Wong West had such a nice vibe outside. Same space, correct?

    • Nikki Mayhew

      I realize it was The Painted Fish last, I just miss GWW!

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      Yes! It opens this weekend.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=549747955 Trent Rosecrans

    flour tortillas?

    • http://www.facebook.com/LindsayJohanna Lindsay Laubenstein

      The burritos are flour, but the tacos are corn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.mess Dan Mess

    The elotes are indeed fantastic. I’ll be honest, when having the fish taco, I kept thinking, “man, Django’s is so much better than this.” And the service was still pretty rough. But! The drinks were fantastic, a few tweaks and the food will go from good to great, and that patio is going to be AMAZING.

    • http://www.facebook.com/LindsayJohanna Lindsay Laubenstein

      Dan–thank you on the drinks! If you wanted to drop me a note somewhere (Lindsay.Laubenstein at gmail would be great) I’d love to hear more about your service issues so we can make sure we’re fixing what went wrong :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/LindsayJohanna Lindsay Laubenstein

    Thanks for the review! We’re working on better ideas for our tortillas…I promise :-) Also, just to throw some fun additions to the thread, my head bartender (Justin DeJohn) and myself are. working out tequila flights, I’m working out the details for a tasting “club” sort of thing (both to launch at the beginning of June), and the summer cocktail list will probably launch mid-June with some house tequila infusions.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      Yum! Thanks for posting– always great when folks involved in the restaurant join in the conversation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/LindsayJohanna Lindsay Laubenstein

        I like to be involved in everything…hahaha

  • observer

    which one of these newer taco places is the most kid friendly? i am sick of eating with my 2.5 yr old at el rancho grande and i am not going to take him to dinner at nada, looking for something in between

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      I have seen lots of kids at Tacocracy. I’d vote for that one.

    • Debbie

      Barrio makes quesadillas for the kids, and I was told they are adding a kids menu. We had a booster for our child so I know they do tend to kids.