Friday, February 1, 2008

Restaurant: Barrio Chino

Nestled in the cozy and somewhat deserted streets of Orchard and Broome is Barrio Chino, a tightly packed, dimly lit Mexican restaurant that does three things extremely well; tequila and it’s accompanying drinks, LES coolness, and mole sauce. Just the first one alone is worth the trip, but put the three together and you have a place that is always packed, with waits for a table as long as an hour or more during peak times. I have had some good and bad luck getting a table. Once, we scored a table for 6 at 8 on a Wednesday, but other times we had to wait 45 minutes on a Friday night at 8:30, and this most recent trip had to wait 25 minutes at 10:30 at night on a Friday. Needless to say, it’s worth the wait, but expect to do as they tell you and go down the block to the terrible French restaurant and get a glass of wine and wait for your cell to ring.

I almost always order the shot of patron or one of their margaritas. The margs are strong and a little fruity, just the way they should be. The shots of patron come with a delicious spicy tomato juice, almost like a bloody mary, but not as thick as normal tomato juice. It tastes great either sipping a little tequila and sipping the tomato drink, or shooting the tequila, and then the tomato juice. You can't really go wrong, as long as both end up going into your mouth.

The starters vary quite a bit, from your standard, yet delicious Mexican Chicken Soup, to mini tacos made from a variety of different fillings. While I got the achiote and citrus rubbed grilled tilapia taco, the calamari as well as the steak ones also looked amazing. Most are served with a very fresh and juicy avocado salsa and pico de gallo. They are one really big bite, or about 2 or three small bites, and come three to an order, so they make a nice dish to share amongst a group if you get a few different types. I've had "real" fish tacos before in San Diego, and I much prefer this type, since they fish is grilled and relies on strong flavors that add to the basic tilapia taste, rather than deep-frying cod. We also shared an order of guacamole that had a really nice kick to it, and came with thick, crunchy homemade tortilla chips. Like most Mexican places, the guacamole order was small, and we were left with extra chips, but it was nevertheless delicious.

As far as entrees go you can't really go wrong with the steak, enchiladas verdes, the stuffed poblano pepper or the excellent tequila and garlic shrimp. The real standout, however, is the enchiladas mole. As the menu describes (and who am I to question?) the enchiladas are stuffed with chicken and topped with queso fresco (a type of crumbly mild Mexican cheese) and cremo mexicano drizzled over the top of what is probably the best mole in the city. Supposedly the chef's mother passed down this recipe and it is extremely rich and creamy, with the perfect dark chocolate hue. With each bite you get a taste of the dark bittersweet chocolate, spices, and heat that makes a perfect mole sauce. Paired with black beans, the cheese the refreshing cremo mexicano, it makes for one of the best single Mexican dishes you may ever have.

I personally never have any room left for dessert at a Mexican restaurant, and maybe because I'm not a big fan of flan (try saying that aloud), I would much rather prefer to top off the meal with another shot of patron and a margarita. Every time I've walked out of Barrio Chino I've been a good full, not rolling home, but happy, a little drunk, and feeling like I just walked out of a place wondering why the line isn't around the corner for dinner.

Go Out of Your Way for Good Mexican

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jake,
I read your blog. Last night I had mojitos w/ my girls and thought of Esperanto!! So good! Brazilians are so hot (love their national drink but def cannot spell it). You know what I am talking about.