Barrio Café in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

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The Spot: Barrio Cafe 2814 North 16th Street 602-636-0240 www.barriocafe.com

See Also: Scottsdale's Barrio Queen Introduces Late-Night (Until 3 a.m.) Menu

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered from 2 until 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

The Interior: Recently, Barrio Café began Saturday morning brunch with happy hour to follow from 2 to 5 p.m. The same happy hour deals apply to Saturday's set-up at the small, but soon to expand, Mexican food joint off of 16th Street and Thomas Road. The inside, like the outside mural-laden walls, is covered in brightly colored works from a variety of local artists. You can sit in any of the rustic leather and metal chairs at each table or at the select (about five) seats at the bar for happy hour.

The Food: Barrio's food has been known in Phoenix for years by bringing a taste of modern southern Mexican cuisine to our Sonoran-saturated food scene. The fresh, hearty, and flavorful dishes made Barrio instantly popular, so much so that there is now a Barrio Café junior in the airport. During happy hour, you can sample seven different $1.50 tacos, or, if you're like us, just jump the gun and order all seven for $10.50.

Whether you can actually eat seven tacos in one sitting, we think you should definitely try out the spicy duck, buttery halibut, moist and tender conchinita pibil, and the surprisingly satisfying poblano hash tacos. Other options include mojo shrimp, chorizo and avocado, and carne asada, but the previous four choices really knocked our socks off. All tacos are served with the house salsa and lime wedges, with cabbage, avocado and Yucatan-style pico de gallo accompanying most options.

The Drink: Unlike most other happy hour spots in town, Barrio Café has a really straightforward deal on happy hour drinks -- half off everything. You can go for a cheap beer or Michelada, but the craft margarita selection with top shelf tequila varies in price from $5 to $7. The flor de jamaica margarita, a hibiscus-infused take on the drink, and the Sergio el Suave with pineapple, cilantro and candied jalapeno are two of our favorites. You can also go the creamier route with your imbibing with the chata or chones cocktails that feature Barrio's award-winning agua de horchata.

The Conclusion: If you're looking for insanely cheap and unique tacos with cocktails to match, Barrio Café's happy hour is the spot for you. It's kind of a wonder to us that Gallo Blanco's Taco Tuesday is as popular as it is when you can get more options and better quality (in our opinion) in both drinks and food for a lower price at Barrio Café on Tuesday through Saturday.

Grade: A

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