Live weather: Storms moving through Oklahoma

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Barrios opens in Midtown today

Advertisement

A Good Egg Dining Group opens its eighth concept Tuesday with Barrios Fine Mexican Dishes, 1000 N Hudson.

Barrios is the first Mexican restaurant for owners Keith and Heather Paul. They traveled the U.S. to garner inspiration, but there’s little doubt “fine Mexican dishes” is a nod to Joe T. Garcia’s in Keith’s hometown of Ft. Worth.

But other than familiar names on the menu, Barrios bears virtually no resemblance to the $4 enchilada plates smothered in chili gravy with troughs of fried beans and seasoned rice of yesterday’s Tex-Mex palaces.

I promise you won’t find a margarita made with avocado or grilled pineapple at Joe T’s, but you don’t want to miss them at Barrios. Jason Ewald, beverage director for AGE, has rolled out a familiar bar program with distinctive features. The Frozen Avocado Margarita is bound to become a signature cocktail. This is brilliant use of an ingredient we expect to find at a good Mexican restaurant. Perhaps a nod to the avocado-based beverages found in numerous local boba tea and smoothie shops, if you like things that taste good and can consume tequila without turning into a “bad hombre” tell your server to keep them coming. The Grilled Pineapple Margarita was also delicious and I would’ve ordered another if not for the need to, you know, drive home safely. The Beer-rita is a whimsical, almost satirical, play on the beer fallen head first in a mug of beer favored at sports bar nationwide, including a high-octane popsicle.

The bar and dining room share space under the same tin roof. The old Frederickson-Tire-turned-Swanson-Tire-Company-turned hottest-spot-in-Midtown now is home to the city’s coolest outdoor dining area. Anchored by a pink wood-burning fireplace, seats are tucked between walls on all sides that will act as a wind break, and occasional tunnel no doubt, and covered by rippled awnings. As usual, AGE mixes practicality and panache to create a simple, elegant atmosphere I anticipate will be bustling with activity more often than not.

The kitchen is captained by chef Chad Willis, moves over to Barrios from AGE’s seafood concept, The Drake. As a pup chef he served as executive chef of the original Iguana Lounge on Western Avenue (now West), serving under then-owners Chris Lower and chef Kurt Fleischfresser. Willis, a graduate of The Coach House Apprenticeship Program, built a strong culinary reputation in nearly a decade as executive chef at The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro plus stops at Saturn Grill and The George Prime Steakhouse before joining AGE.

Willis, who worked with corporate chef Chris McCabe on the menu, offers plenty you’ll recognize in word but not execution – and that’s a good thing.

Table salsas come in green and red. The green is a tomatillo-based and offers a tart and bright flavor, perfect for topping fajitas or tacos. The red is made of roasted ingredients, which sweetens and enriches them. Neither salsas are terribly spicy, but fear not chile-heads, a habanero-kissed version is a request away.

If you’re looking for a free bowl of runny yellow cheese-product dotted with lumps of pepper and/or onion, forget it. Barrios offers a traditional Queso Fundido served in a cast-iron skillet served with house-made flour tortillas and a Tex-Mex Queso with Chorizo.

At a Saturday preview, my wife and I also tried the Smashed Guacamole with our Queso Fundido and couldn’t get enough of it. Yes, guacamole is simple to make, which makes you wonder why so many places screw it up. (Answer: not using fresh, ripe avocados).

Barrios doesn’t screw it up. In fact, they make it perfectly. Can’t wait to try the alternative version with mango.

Entrees includes fajitas, enchiladas, tamales and sopes. We tried the enchiladas with black mole and braised beef short ribs, the vegetarian sopes, borracho beans, brown rice, Mexican street corn and Brussels sprouts. All exemplary.

The black mole and short ribs enchiladas will be a regular for me. The sides were all distinctive and well-seasoned. They also show the kind of thought and precision you expect from a chef-driven kitchen.

We shared churros for dessert. These are not your favorite theme park’s churros. No, these are really just lightweight crullers dusted in sugar and cinnamon served with ice cream and lightly battered banana slices, a pitch-perfect pecan praline all topped with caramel sauce and mint and served in a cast-iron skillet. If I were texting this information, I would insert an emoji whose eyes were bugging out of its sockets. Yes, it was as good as it sounds, and it also means you’re going to have to go easy on the chips and salsa to save room. There are two other desserts to try, and I’m told the pot au crème is transcendent.

Obviously, I haven’t had a chance to eat my way through enough of the menu to make a full assessment, but it’s certainly an encouraging start.

Barrios is named for a family that has served the group since buying Cheever’s Café 16 years ago. Juan Barrios still works in the Cheever’s kitchen today and his brother Jose is the long-time executive chef at Iron Star Urban BBQ. The general manager is Mike Folks. The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For reservations, call 702-6922.

Next up for AGE is a second Republic Gastropub they are installing in the Chisholm Creek development, and a fourth Tucker’s Onion Burgers – this one in Norman. Those two should open in the next four to six weeks.

Related Photos
<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c6b33a7e41241d931d2cfe86cd349414.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ab74718aeb4fd8247200ab8f544b31b9.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d6c9b9fd3ae8cfd07df923af7d3ac356.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5938ed199958e25b734829f71b5b94ea.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9bf91a5899ae348bc4fd48a19847aee0.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3cb0ae20771f1dc3bf78c3350c7cecde.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-28595e1a5a311e5a495a8d6b9bf10496.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d8f4530306c7af0903ef5cb62b7c75a0.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-44ab552e9b9befb74aee21bdc74e2411.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-976d85696ee45bb7a9d0e5aa3341728a.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›

Comments