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Barrio Mexican Kitchen + Bar: Taking Mexican Cuisine to a New Level

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“You can’t make everyone happy… unless you’re a taco.”  You read that and smiled, didn’t you!? Because it’s true! Tacos make us happy! There is much to share about my Barrio experience but I’m starting with their tacos!

Arguably, there’s no such thing as a bad taco, but there’s zero debate that the Birria Tacos at Barrio are among the very best tacos you’ll eat, ever. Birria is not your typical taco; the meat is slow cooked, bathed in a medley of chilies and spices. Traditionally, Birria is made with beef, veal, lamb or pork. You are in Kansas City, where the clear choice of meat isn’t just beef, it’s slow-roasted brisket! The Barrio chef layers perfectly seasoned, fall-apart-tender brisket with jack cheese inside locally made tortillas followed by a quick pan fry, making this taco delightfully crispy. Served with a side of pickled onions and house-made chipotle jus, these tacos will make everyone happy. 

Please don’t think Barrio’s menu is limited to only tacos. Every dish I tasted celebrated traditional Mexican flavors but was enhanced by unexpected, sweet, spicy and savory surprises. Barrio’s menu is a unique mesh of traditional Mexican and coastal flavors, emphasis on flavor, that has been elevated. That’s the word I needed to describe the entire Barrio dining experience! 

The slow-roasted pork empanadas are a rich and savory bite with a spiced finish that was a bit sweet. I couldn’t identify the pleasant flavor and had to ask; turns out, it was a hint of cinnamon! The side of poblano cream sauce added to the exciting, satisfying flavor of this dish.

The Carne Asada Kabobs are as delicious as they are beautiful, an impressive eight ounces of grilled steak with cremini mushroom, red peppers, onions and cilantro chimichurri plated with a side of elote. You might expect the side of elote, but I promise you’ll find the generous scoop of potatoes Valentina to be a terrific and unexpected addition to this plate. 

Back to the elote. The word means “corn cob” in Spanish. You may have heard it referred to as street corn. If you have yet to experience elote, make sure the Barrio is where you taste it for the first time! Roasted corn on the cob, generously covered in chipotle aioli, cilantro, chili powder and queso fresco, this is a must-order item. How good is it? Well, after the tasting I packed up a bit of carryout for dinner that evening. When my husband and I ate the elote we threw all table manners out the window; we barely spoke as the juicy corn, cheese and aioli might have run down our chins a bit. We grabbed a napkin, smiled and declared the elote as delicious!

Our tasting was around lunchtime at the Briarcliff Barrio, their newest location; the vibe was light and happy, it was a beautiful day and the garage doors were up. No doubt, I needed to check out their other locations. Just six days later, my husband and I enjoyed cocktails and dinner at the Brookside Barrio; it was the same fun-chill atmosphere with the same attentive, friendly service! Would you be surprised to learn we are headed to the Red Bridge location with friends next weekend?

Barrio could easily become your go–to spot; it’s a fun and easy place to be. The indoor dining area is spacious and connects seamlessly to a large, beautiful patio kept shaded and cool in the summer by colorful umbrellas and warm in the fall with large fire pits. The scene is perfect for just about any occasion, business lunch, date night, girls’ night and happy hour! 

Barrio offers happy hour seven days a week and on Fridays, happy hour starts at 1:30; that’s not a typo. If you hang out long enough on Friday, you will enjoy live entertainment from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and if you return on Saturday for brunch, you can listen to the DJ spin classic hip-hop while you sip endless mimosas. 

When a restaurant can offer happy hour seven days a week, you can bet the cocktail and margarita menu is exceptionally creative and full of surprises. Their Double O.G. Margarita, named for its double-pour and O.G. status, is crafted with 100 percent agave tequila, triple sec and house-made juice, no mix! I love a smoky drink, so my favorite was the Smokin’ Paloma, a generous glass of Mezcal, grapefruit, lime and agave. But the drink that turns heads is the Patrón Tiki, arriving at your table in a very fun glass and crafted with Patrón Silver, pineapple, orange and coconut.

The next time you’re in the mood to chill, enjoy a terrific cocktail and some next-level Mexican food served by happy people, choose Barrio!

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By: Sheryl Hammontree

Art director, illustrator and entrepreneur Sheryl Hammontree is happiest when creating. As a freelancer, she creates visual styling and targeted messaging to strategically solve challenges for clients. As the owner of Thoughtful Threads, she creates expressive apparel to empower people and build a community of kindness. Sheryl heads outside to find energy, inspiration and calm; whether in the garden or on a trail, her soul is fed by creating memories with her husband, Joel, family and friends.