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Review

Sandy Noto

Bárbaro Taqueria y Cantina

$$$$
Written by
Sandy Noto

There are all kinds of taco spots in Chicago, and Bárbaro Taqueria Y Cantina, a small Mexican restaurant in Humboldt Park, falls right in the middle of the taqueria spectrum. It’s casual and affordable enough for a rent week date, but also feels a little like a cocktail lounge that would impress your friend who drove in from Schaumburg.

And it’s Bárbaro’s great bar that makes it more fun to hang out in than your average neighborhood taqueria, but still more relaxed than a place like Big Star, where the patio crowd can be seen from space. In fact, great drinks are the main reason we enjoy spending time here. Like their piña colada, which is made with fermented pineapple, swaps rum for mezcal, and is our favorite in the city.

For the most part, the tacos here are fine - like the standard (and somewhat bland) carne asada. But there are exceptions, like the delicious pancita (pork belly) taco, or the pescado with a beer-battered piece of whitefish and a spicy habanero sauce that sneaks up on you after a few bites. Between the tacos and the excellent drink menu, Bárbaro’s a reliable option if you’re in the area.

Food Rundown

Sandy Noto
Pancita Taco

This pork belly taco is the best one here. Order it.

Sandy Noto
Taco Bárbaro

The carne asada here is solid, but too bland on its own. Go for the Taco Bárbaro which adds nopalitos and queso fresco.

Sandy Noto
Pescado Taco

This has beer-battered whitefish and a very spicy habanero salsa. The ideal place to eat these would be sitting on a beach somewhere in Southern California, but then we’d be tempted to drink the ocean water to cool down the heat.

Sandy Noto
Milanesa De Pollo Torta

If you’re looking for something filling and don’t feel like ordering six tacos, get a torta. Our favorite is the one with breaded chicken.

Sandy Noto
Gorditas

These are stuffed masa, and the options for fillings are pretty similar to the tacos. Get the chorizo with potatoes, skip the ensalada de nopales (cactus, onion, tomato) - it’s boring and unpleasantly squishy.

Cocktails

Occasionally we find ourselves just coming here for drinks. The piña colada is a big reason why, but the rest of the drinks are exciting too, with spirits like raicilla and ingredients like mole and habanero bitters.

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