Went to Lounge Lizard Central tonight (aka Barrio restaurant in Birmingham, MI), and struck out with my best pick up line: “Wow, the medical clinic billing office profession is fascinating; hey, how about if I take you out for some shopping at Great Lakes Crossing’s finest jewelry stores?” Ahhh, opportunity lost. (She was there on an outing organized by the suburban gym where she takes a salsa dancing class—very multi cultural; except for Hispanics, that is.)
Okay, actually I just went there for the food, and as you may gather, I was skeptical. Barrio tries to recreate a trendy Southern California upscale taqueria. The interior is pretty nice. The Mexican kitsch knickknacks do mute the golden handprints left by the architecture firm of Heller, Moriarity and Schwartz plc.
All the clientele, including me, appeared happy with the service.
The complimentary chips were fresh, plentiful and good, and the free salsa was fine, and it appeared that other salsas were available for a small upcharge, which were made-to-order in a molcajete, and probably were even much better.
I ordered a variety plate of five medium sized tacos. This supposedly came with three sides. Sounds like a lot, but since the three sides were less than three tablespoons each (what the he**?!), the platter was not ridiculously huge. Too much for a health-conscious diner, but not far beyond the average American man’s appetite. And, believe me, you needn’t eat the sides. The beans were undercooked, as was the inexplicable rice, and the corn had a ton of parmesan type stuff on it---I understand it is not yet corn season, but can’t I get at least a little taste of the underlying vegetable?
I hate to admit it, but the tacos were pretty good. The braised brisket taco, the pork carnitas taco and the braised chicken taco each were a little watery. Maybe the braising liquid needed to be lessened/reduced or the cook needed to use a slotted spoon when building the taco, but the meats had a fresh, quality flavor, and each had a unique braising liquid and memorable garnish/topping. The other two tacos were a roasted mushroom, and a grilled fish.
This combo platter cost (Sir Boagman, please assume a seated position) mp$24, but at least all the tacos were truly good. I’ve had better in DTW, but not significantly better. Many taquerias over-fry little tough pieces of meat and bury the greasy bits in mounds of diced onion and bruised, dirty cilantro. (I like even that kind of taco.) Barrio has more good-hearted intentions, even though their Mexican guest-worker kitchen staff surely thinks the food is a big farce.
Maybe the food isn’t even the point. They do feature 125 different kinds of tequila. No, not 125 different kinds of margaritas (criminal offense), but 125 different neat tequilas. Regardless, someday later this year I will again get a craving for those tacos, despite my shameless self.