Nestled in the centre of Shoreditch, Barrio’s bright blue awnings mark the entrance to a definitively different bar experience compared to the other venues in the area. One of four London-based Barrios, the Shoreditch branch continues the Latin theme of the infamous group, serving up tapas-style finger food alongside exotic cocktails and popular tunes until the early hours.
The interior is an eclectic vision of Latin America with faux foliage sporadically adorning the ceilings. The bar commands the main area with seating areas splintering off, while a dance floor resides at the back. Your first visit will be one of exploration, finding the area that most suits what you’re looking to get out of your visit. Before long, you’ll know if you want to be seated in ‘Downtown’ nearer the action or in one of the more secluded areas like the quaint outside section ‘La Terraza’ or the intimate ‘Uptown’.
Seated in a cosy ‘Timber Yard’ booth, we got a great view of the dance-floor action while having the all-important ease of access to the main bar. Made entirely from varying planks of wood, these booths had both an incredibly stylish feel and look, providing a comfortable set-up for at least a party of four. It’s worth noting that it’s not the largest of the Barrio family and often warms up faster than it packs out on a Friday night, but that’s why they serve ice-cold refreshments, obviously.
The Food & Drinks
For drinks, we started with the intriguing and quite frankly incredible Gingerbread Colada (£8.50) and the Ram Berry Jam (£9) which came topped with a Jammy Dodger biscuit - a unique and quirky touch. The cocktail menu at Barrio Shoreditch is quite clearly their central focus with each drink labelled with a popularity ranking that’s apparently based on customer feedback. It’s a nice and simple point of reference when you’re so spoilt for choice, but there’s certainly something for everyone on offer, wherever they come on the scale.
As mentioned previously, Barrio doesn’t serve meals in the traditional sense and rather opts for street food styled tapas that’s ideal for sharing among groups. We tucked into a mixture of one of Barrio’s vegetarian options, Mushroom Quesadillas (£5), the Baja Fish (£6), which comprised of spicy battered cod in taco shells and of course, a portion of Barrio Nachos (£7.50) all of which came served on simple tin trays. The food was generally pretty good, with the Baja Fish a particularly effective flavour combination.
Food was followed by the bold whisky and orange peel concoction, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (£9) alongside a ludicrously fragrant Tropic Plunder (£9) that continued to prove Barrio’s impressive skill at both cocktail creation and puns. While we wouldn’t suggest descending upon Barrio Shoreditch looking for a stomach-filling dinner, the food offers some really memorable flavour fusions, enjoyed best with a few cocktails and some laid-back conversation.
Barrio Shoreditch has quite the following, often gaining a notably long queue later in the evening, and for good reason. On a Friday night, it seemed comfortably busy with enough room to easily reach the loos and hear each other speak; a prime moment to dig into some food before the kitchen shut. As the evening progressed things began to really pack out and heat up, especially once the DJ made an appearance. Present to kick off one of Barrio's weekly events, this DJ-set helped shift the atmosphere from a hip bar to a thumping club, with lots of questionable dancing and flowing drinks. Tables and chairs in the Downtown Bar area were removed, opening the whole space up and completing this evolution, Barrio is fully aware of its split personality and skillfully plays up to it.
Barrio Shoreditch is ideally located to provide a springboard to begin your night out. Alternatively, it’s more than capable to see you through to the early hours, offering all of the ingredients of a great night out with classic street food, memorable cocktail creations and plenty of late-night dance-offs.