The list of Every Bar in Lakewood has slowly expanded since last July. I've had bars open in a new locations. Some bars weren't originally on the list and added later. There have also been the bars that have closed and been replaced by Mexican bars (by July 2013 the count will hit 3.) This week I go back to the location of my now deceased favorite bar. Barrio is bar #40 and the first bar location I'm doing a second new bar blog at.
Entering Barrio is almost overwhelming. The tables and bar were packed. The walls are coved in a skeletal Mexican fiesta. The bar bottles are all glowing along with a bright stained glass window in their center. Basically, there is awesome going on everywhere you look. I was greeted by my favorite bartender/waitress Vicky (sadly, she wasn't my waitress tonight) and proceeded to wait for our table to be ready.
I made my way to the glowing Mecca that was the bar and ordered Revolution's Bottom Up Wit. This is one of my favorite wheat beers. That's not the story which unfolds at this moment. The woman next to us at the bar, after giving us a couple inquisitive looks, asked if we were some of the people that founded the blog. We told her we were and I was the writer. She didn't believe us and quizzed me with the question: What was the bar in your first blog? Obviously, I passed. She, like myself is a big proponent of buying and eating local. We talked about our favorite bars and hers. Her preferences lean toward proximity to home and quality of food. I do like talking to my fans . It obviously makes me feel appreciated and keeps me motivated to not get lazy on my blogs.
Then we got our table and I realized I never told Katie how many people were coming. We let who I think was the manager (I may be mistaken) know that our three person table wasn't big enough. He let us know that the newly empty table next to ours was reserved and asked when our friends would arrive. I replied that they were in the doorway. He broke down and gave us the table. Sorry, to the people that reserved the table. At least the wait was only 10 or 15 minutes.
At Barrio you don't need to use words to order. You fill in sheets of preprinted paper picking out everything you want. There was a normal menu for our liquid refreshments and we used our mouths to order those. Our waitress, who was by mildly often, asked if we had any questions but didn't add anything extra to our experience. The only problem with the service was running out of chips, which would lead to a distressed Jonn later in the evening. I would have liked a quick intro for new people. Explain how to order, that we would get chips for all the sauces and salsas on the menu and things like that. My friends explained it to me. Anyway, there were a lot of options for our tacos.
The tacos were good. I preferred the two cow options to the pig but this was due more to personal preference than anything. They have a lot of yummy options for everyone, including cheeses that make me happy. I suggest adding the slaw. Tacos are sometimes wet. Not soggy but there may be a noticeable amount of liquid to the filling. I also really liked the ghost pepper sauce. I got it on the side so I could control the amount of spice per bite. It's very spicy ,a bit peppery and not for the meek. I thought it helped bring out all the flavors. A taco is required to stop the sauce's burning as it will slowly eat away your taste buds if you only have chips or liquid to squelch it.
I liked our green salsa for our chips. It wasn't afraid to be a nice level of spicy. The chips were good, crunchy and not stale. They were also salty enough to be described as not too salty. I have been warned not to ask for salt. It is for professional application only and will not be given to you.
When one gets a small cup of super spicy liquid, one must share it. Not because sharing is caring but because most people like to watch other people eating something that's too hot. There are three parts of fun to Barrio's ghost pepper sauce. One, there is a one second delay on the heat of the sauce. Two, it stays at its peak level of hotness for the entire time that its burning continues. Three, the heat doesn't seem to disappear with time, only with eating tacos. Shortly after receiving my food and beginning eating Johnny asked me how the sauce was and if he could try it. I said I had (I hadn't) and that it was good and not too hot (it was good but it was also, too hot.) So he took piece of his tortilla from his taco and soaked it in it. He then tried it, attempted to say, “This isn't too bad.” But then quickly switched over to yelling Holy Balls. This was followed by a slew of “WOOooo”s as he then tried to drink beer to make the heat go away. This of course is like throwing water on a grease fire. This is a mutliJon story to be continued.
After our first round of tacos. Our food was gone including the chips. We had put a drink order in. I went with 5 Rabbit Golden Ale. An excellent beer with a mix of caramel and malty taste. It's a great beer to drink and a great beer to talk about with other people that talk about beer due to its complex and changing taste. Get your 5 Rabbit beers while they last, it sounds like it's owners are spending their non-brewing time suing each other. Barrio has a great list of beer and booze. It's not just a large amount of craft beers on tap but they made good decisions picking them.
Jonn at this point had decided he would try anything. I have since let him know that he needs to stipulate anything good when around or I will simply be telling him to do things for my own amusement. Jonn tried the white whisky at my prompting. It kind of tastes like vodka with dirty pebbles dissolved in it. Jonn then tried the ghost pepper sauce after I told him to chug it. He instead dipped the back end of his fork in it and dabbing it on his tongue. He went with, “Oh wow!” He was surprised by the heat, especially with the small amount they he tried. Jonn then looked around in dismay at the empty chip basket and the small glass of rancid albino whiskey. Five minutes later as Jonn had switched over to simply sulking in his misery we finally got the chips after waving down Vicky. The burn wouldn't peter out until his next taco arrived.
Barrio is a great looking bar. I loved the art work on the walls, the lit bar, the skeleton on the lit up bicycle, the matte black ceiling, even the furniture was cool in my book. There was also a surrealism that this was the location of my favorite bar. You could remember where everything was but now it was all morphed. Where I once sat and watched the NFL draft there was nothing but death...and tacos. My memories of the past tried to fit themselves into these new surroundings. Vicky, a bartender at the deceased Screaming Rooster made her way through the new settings within the old walls like a ghost of bar's past.
Number one reason to go to Barrio? Alcohol. They have one of my favorite beer selections in Lakewood. They have a lot of taco options to make a lot of great tacos but the power's in your hands; so don't mess it up. Also, they can be wet. If you take them home put them in something or they'll leave a mess in your fridge. Barrios is full of Day of the Dead Mexican fun that happily avoids looking busy in exchange for awesome. Their service is the big question, my waitress was adequate and helpful when asked. She did her job. If I wanted more information I could have gotten it. Besides the chips, she came by often for such a crowded bar. I like the order pads, they make me feel more comfortable and in control of expressing what I want to eat. Somehow, I was the last one of my friends to come to Barrio and they all complained about service from their past visits that ranged from inadequate to snide and rude. Possibly this was just the growing pains of a new bar. Where does that leave us? It's a great setting with a large variety of good stuff to drink and of tacos to eat with the possible range of great service to the not so great. In the end we will all happily go back to, bar #41, Barrio. There is after all still an army of tequila for us to try.
15527 Madison Ave