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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Barrio Central, Soho

When I fleetingly shared a hot-headed Hispanic couple’s Manhattan apartment, I soon discovered why their decor was minimalist; for them, Saturday Night Fever meant an accusatory bust-up over some imagined peccadillo, Puerto Rican histrionics demanding furniture, ornaments and anything else to hand be totally trashed, Tom & Jerry-style. Repeat such carnage at Barrio Central, an homage to the Americas’ inner city ‘hoods,  and the bill for damages would be light; the new Soho bar’s kitschy retro-junk furnishings look to have been salvaged from a San Juan skip. But if the look is Tijuana trailer trash, the carnival atmosphere and killer c√≥cteles make this Chicano hermano to Islington’s Barrio North as tasty as a Celia Cruz compilation. Sure-footed recipes collated on a Motorcycle Diaries-style roadtrip across the continent merengue in the mouth; Brazilian Lady, Gran Turismo and Flor de Rita impress and our unflappable waitress, Kim, is a star, coaxing chef - after the kitchen has shut - to rustle up a mountain of salsa-fied beef nachos big enough to feed half of Honduras. With Latin DJs and live bands limbo-rocking a tiki club bar downstairs, Barrio is the dog’s maracas. My warring ex-roomies would fancy the tequila and fizz-based No Brainer, served in a porcelain Mexican wrestling mask, it’s a knock-out punch.  
6 Poland Street W1 3230 1002