East-side Eats: Barrio Chino Restaurant Review

I have to admit…since moving from Elizabeth Street two years ago, I have become a West Village snob. I seem to almost forget that the best year of my New York-life thus far took place in Nolita…yes, on the east side. Many late nights and fabulous fare; parties and dinners; scene-y dives and cafes. My friends work for shopbop and had a last minute shindig on Sunday night in leau of Fashion Week. Just as I was about to get comfortable on my couch, paging through take-out menus for Sunday night tube, I got word that I had an hour to get ready…”I’m going to the Rivington Hotel and you’re coming with me”, my friend Joyann insisted through gchat. Easily persuaded, yet moving slowly, I got ready and jumped in a taxi to pick her up on our way to the “other” side. I soon discovered that dinner was going to have to wait…drinks were flowing at Thor and everyone was just starting to arrive. A few glasses of wine, some photos and fashion interviews later (something I watched take place), we were hungry. Again. A few of us made our way to the talked about east side restaurant all night, barrio chino. I was craving their jalapeno-infused margarita, thanks to my friend’s boyfriend (also a foodie) who had talked about it in detail to the point that he actually tried to order a similar drink (and failed to) at the bar. There was an hour wait at barrio chino so we went next door to The Ten Bells for another drink. At first site, a typical east side hole-in-the-wall, exposed brick, dimly lit, chalkboard menu-written wine bar type of joint with a bar and a few high tops. We tasted their Patamaca with serrano ham (simply serrano ham with bread that had been drizzled with olive oil and tomato of some sort) over a glass of wine. SOLD! I probably could have stayed here all night nibbling on the rest of their menu (think oysters, meats, empanadas, cavier and tartars) if barrio chino hadn’t called to tell us our table was ready. When we finally made it to the bar stools over at barrio chino (similar yet smaller dive with the same hodgepodge scene of people and wait staff) I was more than ready for that rita and a plate of their guacamole and perfectly homemade tortilla chips (which we got seconds of). Luckily it was spicy enough to slow down consumption. We ordered some tacos and their calamari salad to finish things off. Friends enjoyed a grape-fruity margarita and some tequila served alongside spicy tomato juice and a lime. The perfect end to a surprisingly spiced-up winter night…on the east side. Looking forward to getting back over there again soon.

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