Once again, I found myself having dinner in Plymouth, Michigan which is the next city over from me, so we do go there quite a bit for a night out. Barrio Cocina y Tequileria is a brand new restaurant that has taken over from another establishment that we used to frequent, which was a wine bar and now it a Mexican restaurant. The beautiful wine racks that were built against the walls are now gone, and there is a huge mural painted on one wall that reminds me of what one encounters now in my old neighborhood in Southwest Detroit. As soon as we were seated, our waiter came and explained that this restaurant is not the usual Tex-Mex restaurant that is found all over the Detroit area and suburbs. This restaurant had a much smaller menu and was trying to convey the feeling of street vendors in Mexico, or maybe some of the now current food trucks that have been plying food without being a brick and mortar establishment.
We started off with a couple of Margaritas, my Bride had a Blood Orange Margarita and I went with a classic Margarita. Even the drinks were served differently; they arrived in what I used to call a tall Tom Collins glass. We had a very busy morning, so we had a good appetite when we arrived. We started off with a classic bit of Mexican appetizers, namely some Guacamole and some Chips and Salsa. To maintain the aura of a street side vendor the chips were served in a paper bag with the top half cut off for a breezy casual dish. They had a series of “Street Tacos” and “Signature Tacos.” My Bride had the Carnitas from the “Street Tacos” and it was a dish of braised spice pork, Pico de Gallo and cilantro; while I tried the Camarones from the “Signature Tacos” which was shrimp, cebollitas, Pico de Gallo, shredded lettuce (actually micro-greens), Queso Fresco and cilantro. There were three tacos served on miniature corn tortillas on each plate, and another air to the street vendor theme was that each plate had a lining of wax paper over the plate; while it looked cute it made the cutting the tacos a bit more challenging. In hind sight, I think we should have taken the tacos off of the main plate and put each one on our side plate, oh well, the next time.
For our dinner we switched over from the Margaritas to wine. Not only did the Barrio have a large selection of Tequilas to choose from, they also had a good selection of Mexican beers on hand, but what caught our eye was they had a couple of Spanish wines on the menu. My Bride instantly decided that she wanted Rio Madre Rioja DOCa 2013. Most Rioja wines are made from Tempranillo and Garnacha, but this Rioja wine was made entirely from the varietal Graciano, still one of the accepted grapes for the Rioja designation and it had a slightly different taste, but still very appreciated. The Graciano is known as the Morrastel and is found mainly in the Languedoc region of France; this varietal is also known as Graciana, Morrastel, Tinta Miuda, Tintilla de Rota, Minustello and Parraleta (for all you Century Club entrants). The Graciano is harvested almost ninety-five percent world wide in Spain, so it is truly a local varietal. I on the other hand went with a glass of Flaco Tempranillo DO Vinos de Madrid 2013 from the Compania de Vinos Del Atlantica. Flaco is Spanish for “dude” and all I kept thinking of was the White Russian drinking Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” Madrid has only in the past thirty or forty years started producing artisan style wines, the area was known for its bulk wine production for years. Tinto Fino as Tempranillo is called in the Madrid area is one of the varietals that has been leading the change over from the bulk wine business. This particular wine was aged both in Stainless Steel and Concrete and then blended together. Both of these wines worked very well with the dinner, and this humble Dude “abides.”