253 Broome St
(between Ludlow St & Orchard St)
New York, NY 10002
I finally made it to Barrio Chino. LAW doesn’t like Mexican food very much and since he is my primary dining date, I had yet to venture out to this very well-known Mexican restaurant situated right on the edge of Chinatown. There’s also always a long line so there was even less incentive to go. Anyway, I finally made it on a girls’ night out (+T.G.).
Started out with a round of margaritas. I got the grapefruit margarita with a rim of sugar… apparently their most popular drink. It was a good margarita, but lacked grapefruit taste. I was imagining a deliciously cold sweet and tart tequila drink with hints of grapefruit bitterness… but just got the sweet and tart bit instead. I would have had another round if I wasn’t biking home from dinner.
We shared the Guacamole with homemade tortilla chips and salsa roja ($10). M.B. pushed my expectations way high when she said that we had to get it because it was some of the best guac she’s had. She’s from California, where avocados are in season all year round, so she definitely knows her stuff. The guac was creamy, yes, and very good. But I think avocados are naturally just so awesome that I can’t say I’ve ever had bad guac before… it requires little more than mashing and some light ingredients. The best guac is definitely the kind you make for yourself because you add as much salt, pepper, lime, and chilies as you like… This guac was not spicy enough for my taste and could have used a bit more lime. But honestly, any ripe avocado makes me salivate. $10 for a small bowl was also a bit pricey. If you are willing to pay for overpriced guac, check out Rosa Mexicano. They have a highly customizable guac appetizer that is deeelicious.
I had the Camarones Borrachos, which was a plate of fresh shrimp sauteed in tequila, guajillo chiles, and garlic, with green rice, avocado slices, and tortillas ($12). The first thing I noticed was that the rice wasn’t really green. Green rice, or arroz verde, is rice dish made with long grain rice, parsley, and steamed spinach leaves. I’ve never had it so was excited to try what I envisioned to be a flavorful rice. However, it tasted pretty plain, which after having the shrimp, I was happy about. The sauce was tasty and had a nice kick to it from the chiles. It was a little too salty, which is why the plain rice and tortillas were welcomed. I was bummed that the shrimp was overcooked… overcooked seafood is one of my biggest pet peeves. A couple seconds too long on the heat and the shrimp or fish is completely un-salvageable. Seafood should be fresh, sweet, and only lightly seasoned to enhance its own flavors. Not chewy, tough, and doused in sauce.
M.B. had the Chicken Tacos ($10) with chicken marinated in garlic, onion, and jalapeno, served with avocado salsa and cilantro. I had a couple of bites and man… the chicken was really tough. The avocado salsa was weak, especially since I had recently tried Chop’t’s delicious Mexican Goddess dressing, which is an avocado dressing with jalapenos, lime, and cilantro.
I normally don’t like to blog much about ambiance or even service because my focus is on taste. If it tastes good, I’ll go. The other stuff is secondary. But I think to do Barrio Chino justice, I have to mention that the place is really charming. We sat by these nearly full length open windows and right next to this awesome Chinese painting (see left). Barrio Chino translates into “Chinese District,” pretty cool theme. Food is really mediocre which makes me wonder why this place is so popular. I guess the Mexican options in the city are just that slim.