Main Location: Minneapolis
Premiering alongside the same slew of “Original” Minneapolis Trucks in the 2010 year, Barrio sells a higher-end Mexican experience. Originally parked in its own special location a few streets off the normal Truck crowd, Barrio now takes its usual stand among the rest on Marquette, much to the chagrin of the many Skyway Food Court owners (I once listened to the Taco John guy go on and on about them, despite the fact that no one can even see Taco John’s from the street).
Burritos and Tortas side half of the menu, but the real mainstay is, of course, the Tacos. With fillings like Soft-Shell Crab, Cumin-Fried Chicken, and Lengua (tongue), Barrio shows customers a sense of TRUE Mexican ingredients, treated with proper technique. Each Taco is then filled with its own purely unique salsa, sauce, and other toppings to match the protein of choice.
One can, of course, still get Pork Carnitas and Beef Barbacoa in taco and burrito form, made from natural and local animals. Drink menu contains Mexican Coke, Jarritos, and a couple other interesting things, but they come at a higher price than other trucks.
A popular, upscale Mexican restaurant, it shouldn’t be surprising the tacos are made brilliantly. The Soft Shell Crab has that perfect crispy texture, the delicate sweetness peeking through to pair alongside watermelon-tomatillo salsa. Tacos de Lengua are nice and tender, cooked properly and topped with rich Arbol Chile salsa, crispy radishes offering perfect contrast.
Normally I would go off on that fact that each taco has only one tortilla as opposed to two… but here it just seems to make sense. All ingredients are packed in the taco perfectly so that nothing spills at all… there would be no real use. They’re small, compact, and feel like they came from a top-quality restaurant.
Note this is a one-time exception that I shall ever allow this as “okay,” so don’t you new Taco Trucks think I’m about to get masa-soft.
As mentioned, Tacos are stuffed very well, so they’re quite easy to eat; given two individual tacos, one has a basket from which to eat them from. One cannot say the same ease may be met with the Burrito and Torta. Both are served alongside many condiments and starches, Burrito with rice-beans and Torta with Chips n Guac.
I have said quite a few nice and quality-focused comments on Barrio Truck so far, but that’s just focused on the quality of the food. Truth is, I don’t like them. I don’t like them at all. And this is why.
Both Barrio and Smack Shack (as you will soon see) share one very common feature, outside of the fact that they both make really good, upscale “street food.” Whenever it is that I end up talking to people about why it is I do not regard either of them as a true food truck, this is the main statement I use. “If you look at most Food Trucks, the HIGHEST price that they might charge for a menu item is $9. At Barrio and Smack Shack, the LOWEST price they charge is $9.”
Now, for reasons you read later, this is even more infuriating with Smack Shack; Barrio at least has 3 different, easy-to-see-quality items with this price. They all taste good, and in the scheme of things I can understand how the food made is worth this price; quality ingredients made with a LOT of focus. But the fact remains that THESE prices are for a RESTAURANT; not a Food Truck, not Street Food.
It is then difficult to order these, look at how small they are, and not wonder about the other Tacos you could have bought for a few dollars less, which would have had MORE fillings and been just as satisfying. Even if they weren’t “technically perfect” in execution.
I mean seriously, they even charge more for the same sodas than other Trucks.
Takes a little longer to get a taco here than at other trucks.
The TOE: 4
For keeping to Tradition, for using well-recognized Latin Street Foods, Barrio is able to make up for some of their obvious disconnect from their Restaurant base. But the fact remains, they are another truck sticking with the same Menu as the original despite moving onto a very different territory. Current prices on specialty tacos should remain the same. They do have to make a profit, but going out without even trying to offer lower, more average-priced items is a sign of pure disregard and elimination for a noticeable percentage of the Lunch Crowd.
Screw lunch here, get your tacos somewhere else, and go to the Barrio Restaurant for dinner where the prices are more suited. You can at least get yourself a Tequila Shot to enjoy with the food.
When you do, and want to stick to some of the flavors from the Truck, try to find anything with Soft Shell Crab or Beef Tongue; they’re my personal favorite and will be yours once you work past the “ewwww” thoughts.