We spent some time in Carlsbad, CA during our trip to Southern California earlier this year, a quaint seaside community about 35 miles north of San Diego. We spent a portion of a day walking around the downtown area known as Carlsbad Village and we came across a little Mexican restaurant - Barrio Eat Mexican - that had outdoor dining and sort of a cantina look to the place. Deciding that a margarita and a couple tacos would be nice for lunch on a sunny day, we took a seat at a table on the sidewalk in front of the little place along Grand Ave. in downtown Carlsbad. (see map)
Barrio Eat Mexican is owned by Mayur Pavagadhi, a restaurateur who owns two other Carlsbad area restaurants - Paon, a French-inspired restaurant and wine bar; and 83 Degrees, a gastropub that was converted from Pavagadhi's seafood restaurant Catch in 2013. (Pavagadhi originally was going to call the place 38 Degrees, but the owner of 38 Degrees Ale House located in a suburb north and east of Los Angeles objected to the name citing that it would confuse patrons who thought the Carlsbad location was an off-shoot of the Alhambra location. At the last moment, Pavagadhi changed the name to 83 Degrees.) Barrio Eat Mexican opened at the end of September of last year.
The inside of the small cantina featured an indoor-outdoor bar up front with a number of tables and chairs in the dining area. The decor was festive, yet sort of subdued.
Our server that day, Kellie, came over with menus and asked what we wanted to drink. We both got one of their housemade margaritas, but I got a Negro Modelo after finishing the excellent margarita. We were looking more at their tacos, but Barrio Eat Mexican also had enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, burritos and tamales.
Cindy was still sort of full from a large breakfast so she just ordered up a single shrimp taco. The grilled shrimp were topped with some shredded cabbage, radish slices and a chipotle mayo sauce and served on a housemade tortilla shell.
I went with three tacos - pork carnitas, shrimp, and carne asada. The carnitas came with chopped tomatoes and guacamole, while the carne asada came with chopped onions and cilantro and a side of the tomatillo chile verde sauce. All three of them were outstanding - the carnitas were tender and had a nice spicy seasoning on them. The shrimp tacos were excellent with the butter-grilled shrimp and the spicy/smoky chipotle mayo sauce on top was a great combination in taste with the shrimp. But the carne asada taco - with the fresh chopped onion and cilantro, topped with the great chile verde sauce - was the best of all three. I raved about it so much that Cindy had to get her own. She was glad she did. She did like the carne asada taco, but thought the shrimp taco was better thanks to the chipotle mayo sauce.
For a laid back street taco type of place, we sincerely loved our visit to Barrio Eat Mexican. Kellie was fun and efficient with her service, the tacos were interesting and excellent, and being able to hang out in the warm California sun with a margarita and a beer was an enjoyable part of our vacation. Barrio Eat Mexican was a fun and good place to have lunch on a sunny California early afternoon.