we’ve long been fans of the barrio bars in soho and islington, and last night, their ‘brother from another borough’ opened it’s doors. pb headed to shoreditch high street for some delicious nibbles, booty shakin’, and most importantly – cocktails.dark and dingy is the decor du jour in most east london drinking holes these days. and then along comes barrio east, all cheerful and happy to see you. sitting loud and proud on the high street, with no foreboding steps to basement level to descend or secret passageways to navigate, it’s as if they are actually excited to welcome you.
as a loyal east londoner, i admit i love the clandestine excitement of stumbling upon a hidden speakeasy or new pop-up burger joint before the hordes of hipsters descend, but the ‘tude that often comes with it and sitting on milk crates in somebody’s garden shed can wear thin sometimes. perhaps that is why the established fun and warmth of barrio is like a breath of fresh and fruity air.
our group laid claim to a big table in the dining room of the bar, and shimmied away in our seats as round after round of champagne and cocktails arrived. the cocktails, served in the obligatory glass jar with striped straw (a little hipster creeping through there), were a little too delicious for our own good – particularly for those of us who had very early alarms today. particular faves were the hawaii-n-dry, a girly grapefruit and guava vodka cocktail, the classic tommy’s margarita, and the so-weird-it’s-good hoodrat, which featured pepper and chilli. spicy!
the food was so delicious that we found ourselves chasing the waitress around the bar stealing two hors d’oeuvres off her tray at a time. big, juicy coconut prawns, fresh ceviche, little tostadas with tender beef steak, and pork and plantain skewers.
there is a big caravan cut in half in the club area that is the perfect little spot to appraise the action on the dance floor before making your move. ‘uptown’ is the more relaxed, intimate bar area with cosy booths and pineapple lampshades – they had us at pineapple.
i couldn’t resist snapping a cheeky picture of the bathroom, which feels like a day on the beach with its colourful little hut cubicles.
we’ll be heading back to barrio east in the coming weeks for a proper meal, and if the scrumptious morsels we tasted last night are any indication, we’re in for a treat. with beats so good you can’t help but shimmy, it is also the perfect place for some pre-party cocktails with friends (though don’t be surprised if you end up on the dance floor for the rest of your night, pre-arranged plans a distant memory).
you can find barrio east at 141-143 shoreditch high st. contact them here.