If you find yourself dreaming of a summer holiday that's still months away, tide yourself over with a mini getaway in the form of this urban paradise. Located on Essex Road just off Islington's Upper Street, Barrio Angel is one of a trio of Barrio bars, with other popular sites in Soho and Shoreditch. DesignMyNight popped in to get the lowdown.
As you enter Barrio Angel you are hit (figuratively of course!) by a colourful wall of vibrant sights and sounds. The wildly eye-catching decor - complete with mock-foliage, colourful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and suitcases adorning the walls - is designed to make you feel like you've just landed in some Latin American paradise, where you can dance, drink and forget your troubles. There are even multi-coloured tiles on the walls, scrawled with the entertaining graffiti of previous party-goers; so the bar retains the memories of past nights out, even if the 'artists' in question don't!
With comfy banquette seating and even a funky, decked out caravan available for private hire, Barrio Angel is tailor-made for small groups and larger parties looking to have some fun.
Barrio is the epitome of a party bar and as this was a Thursday evening, most people were already wishing Friday away and getting into weekend mode. Drinkers sipped on colourful cocktails, while the DJ spun a lively mix of salsa beats. The party continues until 1am on a Thursday and even later on a weekend, so there's no excuse for not having a great time.
We grabbed a table opposite the bar, right in the midst of the action, where we could watch the skilled bar tenders as they mixed up mouth-watering cocktails; some with an added burst of flame to really heat things up.
The Food and Drink:
Cocktails are the name of the game at Barrio and there's a daily Happy Hour between 5pm and 8pm to make sure they don't set you back too much. During Happy Hour - or Amigo Hour as it's known in Barrio land - you can choose from a selection of £5 cocktails, as well as nabbing a beer for £3 and saving £5 off a bottle of wine.
We took the bartender's cocktail recommendations and began by opting for a Jalisco Highlander with tequila and elderflower and a Gingerbread Colada with rum, coconut, pineapple and an added twist of ginger. Both went down a treat!
The food at Barrio Angel is catered to party-goers looking to nibble on a few tasty bites in between cocktails, so the choices include the likes of chips and dips and goat's cheese and ciabatta, but that doesn't mean you can't get something more substantial if you like. We decided to try the Barrio Platter. For £14 you get a healthy portion of salami, chorizo, and parma-ham, served alongside freshly baked ciabatta and a top selection of cheeses, ideal for soaking up the spirits.
Back to the cocktails though, as now it was time to try something different. Sample the Tropic Thunder - a flaming Caribbean delight of rum, banana liqueur, mango and passion fruit garnished with a flaming cocoa dusting - if you're hoping to wow onlookers.
Barrio is an absolutely great place to meet friends for a few drinks or for a fun-filled party, and everything inside is catered towards achieving exactly that. From sharing boards and sharing cocktails, to seating areas tailor made for groups. Even some of the tables fold away to create more space for dancing later in the evening. The decor is colourful and vibrant, the ambience is lively and uplifting and the service is top notch, as are the cocktails.
The food choices are tasty and the menu well suited to the kind of bar Barrio Angel is, one where you don't want to be tied down to huge, messy main courses or even cutlery for that matter. The kind of bar where you find a base, grab a drink and work the room and it does this brilliantly.
If you're after a vibrant venue that's perfect for a lively gathering, then take a trip to Latin America where Barrio are getting the party started...south of the border, down Mexico Way!