Food & Drink
Fast Foodie: Barriba Cantina
Published: November 9, 2011
Barriba is one of those names I wish I had thought of. It's also the best thing about this upstairs sibling of the County Line on the River Walk. The cantina occupies the space vacated by Starbucks (now representing the empire on North St. Mary's across from Sip), and said space has been redone in the hip-chaotic style that is the contemporary equivalent of the old serape/cactus/sleeping-Mexican genre: Day of the Dead, lottery motifs, etc. Lots of etc. But at least local artists were used, and the place should appeal to tourists.
Tourists are apparently the target audience. Tiny tacos run three for $9.99, and a margarita with top-top-shelf tequila can get up to $19.95 — not that you would do that. Other mix-y cocktails hover around the 10- and 12-dollar range. The Purple Reign with Cîroc vodka, limoncello, violet liqueur, and agave syrup clocks in at $9.50 and needed a lot of squeezed lime to tame the sweetness. The Skinny Dulce Vida, a bargain at $8.50, is actually a pretty good marg variant, though, with orange juice subbing for orange liqueur. With it, you also avoid the pre-made margarita mix.
At $6.99, Mexican Deviled Eggs stand out as one of the more appealing sounding apps, and part of their presumed appeal is "crispy candied jalapeño bacon." Good luck finding much of it; forget the crispy part altogether. Otherwise, the eggs, three of them halved, are OK if a little gratuitously chilé hot. The mango pork carnita tacos that also sounded appealing come on decent tiny tortillas, but the topping is a train wreck of too many ingredients, many of which are much too cold. The carnitas get lost in the shuffle. And the accompanying coconut rice and black beans, both of which are well worth eating, are served in small, black plastic cups that frustrate attempts to excavate them with a fork. A spoon would be welcome. Does nobody ever think of these things?
Be warned that live bands can be very live indeed, even if you're sitting on the pleasant patio overlooking the river. But also know that service is swift and, on two occasions, very friendly and efficient. No disappearing act at check time, for example. It would be a shame to abandon all this to tourists alone.
111 W Crockett St, Ste 214