Ugh… Mmm… Hard to separate the two barbaric sentiments on the morning after – these carnal grunts can be interpreted in a variety of ways when it comes to Barrio Coreano…
The latest addition to Dave Sidhu’s Playa Cabana familla, I’m still trying to suss out whether Barrio Coreano is my favourite new restaurant, or just my new home. To state it simply – it’s got what I like. Neon lights and loud music, Mexican themes and Korean accents, the perpetual allure of great food and solid drink – I’d be hard pressed to say that they’re not the whole package.
As soon as one steps into their signless Bloor West abode you’re greeted with a perfect pink hue from the old bowling alley lights. There’s exposed brick everywhere, distressed ‘pressed aluminum’ ceiling tiles, patina’d metal fencing and a spot that just screams character. From front dining area to mid-station bar to back of house seating, I can see why Dave tells me that it’s his favourite design yet.
The food and drink list remains resoundingly Mexican, with Korean touches added in – an ode to the neighbourhood it occupies, as much as anything. Fried tuna tacos with yuzu on a blue corn tortilla and a kimchi sour to wash it down, masterful guacamole that’s mixed up tableside and yep, it’s still tugging at my heartstrings.
Their taco list will run five-deep to start – the aforementioned tuna and yuzu, a fried chicken with a sweet and spicy chipotle sauce, spicy pork carnita which they weren’t yet rolling out at the preview event, a grilled octopus with wasabi salsa that was so tender you’d barely be able to distinguish it from the most succulent piece of bird, and a Korean galbi beef taco that now tops my list of favourites in the city. It’s hard to nitpick when they’re really not doing anything wrong.
I’d like a few more of their Kequila Marma’s made with Don Julio tequila, citrus and a sweet, soothing yugacha mixture (a traditional Korean citron tea). Oh, and a sampling of their appetizers like red pepper tortilla soup, jalapeno spring roll, or their grilled calamari with burnt arbol kimchi. We didn’t get to sample these delights, but they won’t be the only things pulling me back to this new mecca of Mexican’ish in Korea Town, Toronto…
Barrio Coreano is located at 642 Bloor Street West, Toronto. It will open to the public Thursday, November 28th.