Barrio East: Latin-inspired Food And Fun In Shoreditch

Barrio East opened its doors to the public this past weekend, bringing with it a fresh breeze of South-of-the-Border fun and a “slap of Latin attitude” to East London.

Barrio East Shoreditch House London

The third restaurant in the Barrio Bar group to launch in London, Barrio East is a cantina, club and cocktail bar serving up cuisine, drinks, music and dance influenced and inspired by cities across the Caribbean and Latin America. Founded by the entrepreneur and world-traveller Ferdie Ahmed the Barrio Bar team also includes Sat Ghuman and Ani Kyriacou.

With a capacity for 300, the bright bar invites guests to explore its two sides: Barrio Uptown and Barrio Downtown. Its Uptown lounge, which is aBarrio East combination of Cuban hotel lobby, colonial courtyard, and Mexican speakeasy, offers  intimate booth seating making it perfect for private functions or for a chilling out with a drink from the marble-topped bar. The Timber Yard is another chilled-out space, and perfect for relaxing in one of the colourful booths to people watch and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi.  Barrio East’s ‘Downtown’ will look familiar to fans of its other locations with its long orange bar stretching much of the length of the La Boca Barri area, leading to the dance floor which boasts a converted 1960’s vintage ‘Sprite’ caravan, providing comfort while keeping you close to the action.

Regularly hosting both DJs and live acts, music and dance is a key component of the Barrio East atmosphere, and if their launch party last Wednesday is an indication of what’s to come, they’ve got an excellent line-up booked for this season. Starting last week’s evening off with a live band, Barrio pulled out all the stops with Samba dancers, DJs and a round of Brazilian-style break dancing.

Coinciding with the opening of Barrio East is the launch of a new cocktail menu across all Barrios. Divided into categories of ‘New Releases’, ‘Remixes’ and ‘Greatest Hits’, each drink on the new menu is matched with a suggested song that pairs harmoniously with the cocktail. The Gingerbread Colada  for example, is paired with Coconut Woman, Lloyd Price’s Calypso-tinged Big-Band classic. Sampled on the night of the launch were several of the Latin-twisted and original creations like the Hawaii ‘N’ Dry, a lady-like grapefruit and guava vodka libation, the spicy Hoodrat, and my personal favourite, Tommy’s Margarita, an expertly made classic cocktail with plenty of zing.

The food at Barrio East is not to be missed; every dish is packed with flavour and tastes incredibly fresh. The salsa accompanying the classic chips Barrio East and salsa is smooth, but full of the aromatic seasonings and spices that characterise Mexican cuisine. The beer-soaked ‘Borracho’ beef skewers were amazingly tender while the Vegetable Tostadas perfectly married vegetables and cheese for a winning combination of both flavour and texture. The gigantic king Coconut Shrimp with habanero salsa was an offering I couldn’t get enough of and each bite of this delicacy seemed to melt in my mouth. Other delicious  Latin and Caribbean-inspired delights included: empanadas, ceviche cured in Margarita, and Chicharrones with fried banana served on a skewer.

Barrio East can be found on the bustling Shoreditch High Street in Eastern London.

Call +44 (0) 20 3230 1002 for information or private bookings.

Natalie Rose

Natalie Rose lives and writes in London. She has an MA and BA in film and literature and a keen interest in travel, culture and fine things.