El Barrio

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I don’t often eat in restaurants by myself, but I’ve tried it on a few occasions: on a solo road trip, in airports, instead of eating fast food with one hand in my car, or when I want to treat myself. My visit a few months ago to El Barrio, a newish, Mexican-inspired establishment in downtown Birmingham, was of the latter persuasion. I remember it was late in the day, and all my friends were at work and certainly had already eaten lunch. I’d seen a few Facebook posts, a review or two, and I was close by.

The open air feel of the restaurant and the light streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows was immediately inviting. It wasn’t crowded either, which is key for the shy when deciding on a table for one. I tucked into the menu, delighted to see tacos al pastor. I know for sure that one of those heaping mounds above is that, and, if memory serves, the other two were the pollo and carnitas options. I should’ve written it down then. I do remember the spiciness, the heat, the warm give of the chewy tortillas, and the spritz of lime I squeezed on each. There was cilantro and pineapple and fresh chipotle cream. I recall the multiple glasses of water I gulped; the waiter could have just left the pitcher with me and saved himself the trips. Two tacos would have probably been plenty for my appetite, but my taste buds wanted to indulge in the experience. I haven’t been back since my first visit, and that should be remedied, and soon.

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