Baro Restaurant has long provided a four-level boisterous background to King West’s nightlife, with block after block buzzing with bars, nightclubs and hotels, so when OG El Hefe Steve Gonzalez packed his bags for sunnier skies, we all shared a collective gasp while we wondered what will happen to this eclectic space. COVID hasn’t exactly been kind to the restaurant industry, and it’s really anyone’s guessing game who can and will survive this pandemic.
But Baro is a special spot. So unique in its location as it is in its ethos, the old adage is true, only the strong will survive, and this prime space reigns supreme. With the Baro Main Dining Room, uber-popular Pablo’s Snackhouse, The Rooftop, and a private dining room dubbed The Loft, social distancing isn’t exactly an issue here and every protocol and safety check is ensured.
An open kitchen adds to the buzz at Baro Restaurant, with recently appointed Head Chef Brent Maxwell (formerly East Thirty-Six on Wellington) stepping in to fill Steve’s shoes. The adjacent bar area makes it easy to pop in for a quick cocktail, and naturally, the bar makes a perfect Lime Margarita, both in spicy format and not, boozy and salty and perfect for crushing chips and smashing guac. 🥑
But what about the food?
Scallop Aguachile and Tiradito Ceviche (both $23) are a seemingly effortless first start, deftly dressed and presented with delicate garnishes, Chef Maxwell rightly lets the fresh, quality fish do the talking only asserting the minimal influences to allow the dishes to truly shine. Carpaccio de Carne ($24) is also a masterpiece relying on the best ingredients to showcase this starter, beef tenderloin is shaved and crowned with tapioca chips and cured and confit egg yolks, while the Chori Papa ($19) is all but mandatory, with pork chorizo presented with flour tortillas and topped with chipotle aioli, corn and goat cheese.
Pulpo a la Plancha ($26) puts Chefs’ expertise on full display, octopus can be a tricky protein to master and here it’s blistered in the most beautiful way, with potato additions and crispy quinoa and cilantro to complement. The Baro Wedge Salad ($18) is a mighty and majestic tower of greens, dotted with pomegranate and cilantro it is a celebration of salads and Chefs’ creativity.
It is not the same taco slingin’- tequila downing joint it used to be, and that’s a good thing. The new menu injects a more traditional upscale version of the previous menu, and we’re ready for the sophisticated new take on this King West institution.
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All images by Libby Roach. While our dining experience was complimentary, all views and opinions are legit and honest.