By Chris Hemmings, (@hemmch)
Whilst Mexican may not be top of everybody’s list of ‘eat out’ spots, Barrio Central has revamped, and is making a strong case for you custom. With the re-opening they’ve really mixed things up with their broad new range of simple, tasty dishes, ideal as a preamble to a night on the town. It’s an intimate venue, particularly upstairs, and certainly not too fancy. The decor is loud and adventurous, but there’s a decent array of cocktails to help wash it all down. Then there’s the basement bar, catering for the late-nighters, where the drinks continue to flow.
Let’s start with the food – the real standout is their lamb chilli tacos. Each serving comes with two wraps as standard. If you’re in to sharing, that’s great, but personally I’d recommend eating them to yourself. The combination of lamb mince, pickle and sour cream would suffice, but the addition of a cured egg yolk is pure magnificence. I’d put that straight to the top of my ‘want list’.
The menu is very much designed for sharing, and there’s no more classic Mexican sharer than a bed of nachos, covered in meaty, saucy goodness. Barrio’s nachos are, alone impressive, but you can always add some extras, if you’re feeling that bit more peckish. As for quesadillas, they’re not always the most adventurous of choices, but fear not, these ones come with cactus (now I thought cactus was only taken as an hallucinogen). Whilst a tad disappointed I could still see my hands, I wasn’t too surprised they’re not actively tripping out customers; the wallpaper is far too jazzy for any of that.
Their ‘chicharrones’ are an interesting mix, including quaver-style pork crackling, but the best snack is certainly the ‘elotes’ (corn on the cob). It’s grilled and topped with cheese, lime and chilli mayo. If that sounds a bit indulgent, it is. And for under a fiver, it should be on your table. Another good dish is the ceviche, it’s not quite plentiful enough on its own, but it’s definitely a strong choice as a side. It’s got a naughty touch too, with some crispy sweet potato mixed in.
Drinks-wise Barrio keeps it simple. They won’t bring you a flaming vegetable filled with exotic liquors, instead they’ll serve cocktails packing a Mexican punch; lots of rum, and lots of tequila (the Wonky Donkey will have you braying like a mule) served in a glass – thankfully.
This new menu offers something of a rarity in Soho: simplicity that’s reasonably priced. You have the choice of pushing the boat out or popping in for a snack. You can nip in for a drink, or get merry with your Mexicana as the lights dim later in the evening.
Barrio Central can be found at 6 Poland St, London W1F 8PS.