My hands down favorite part of a meal (other than dessert) is the appetizer. Ordering appetizers instead of dinner is the perfect option for someone completely food-obsessed and indecisive like me. Why commit to just one thing when you can order many?! That’s why one of my favorite indulgences is a tapas bar, where it’s completely acceptable, expected even, to order a variety of small plates. So imagine my excitement when I discovered Barrio was within walking distance of our hotel in downtown Columbus. Score!
Barrio had a great menu of tapas to choose from. We ended up with a few different empanadas: pork shoulder, black bean and queso blanco, and chipotle tomato spinach and queso blanco. Our favorite was the pork – wonderful tender shredded pork and a few delicious sauces to add some kick.
Next up was the carmelized provolone cheese, served with tomatoes, olive oil, grilled bread and tortilla chips. This one was every bit as amazing as it sounds. Cheesy goodness, baked to a golden brown, with flavorful oil saturating the bread (or chip) – seriously, what’s not to like? Only (small) complaint is that they could have served more grilled bread and less chips.
Of course there were cocktails – Sangria for me, the spiciest bloody mary ever made for Dave. Holy pepper!
Last up was the ancho chilli pork tenderloin (not sure why we ended up with two porks) which was really more meal-like than other tapas. It was a generous skewer of spicy pork, served with smoked paprika gnocci, poblano, red onions, and tomatillo chilli sauce. Too bad the picture is dark – it looked really good. This dish definitely brought some heat though, wow, my mouth was on fire.
If restaurants were judged exclusively on the bread they serve, Barrio would be one of the best. This bread was heavenly smeared with soft butter and that oil you see above, a slightly spicy infused olive oil of some kind.
So if you’re craving tapas and you live in Northeast Ohio, chances are you should get in your car and drive to downtown Columbus. (Here in Canton we’re definitely tapas-deprived.) Loved the ambiance too, great design, low lighting, swanky dark decor. I only took one picture, which isn’t the greatest, but you get the idea. Barrio is yet another great spot in Columbus!