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Spiffed-up Lincoln Park Mexican appealing to a neighborhood crowd.

Our Review

Lakeview's Barrio Urban Taqueria—a warm-toned, loungey room with an odd configuration of stools in place of a proper bar and banquette seating in the back room—is a long way from the Latin barrio. The menu touts house-made tortillas and salsas, but the results are oddly tasteless, with little masa flavor and even less heat in an order of four tacos ith a trio of salsas. And much of what we tried was overly sweet, including a "Rehab" margarita with tamarind syrup, tequila, St-Germain, and piquin chile powder. The house margarita, on the other hand, had a bitter metallic aftertaste. Appetizer options include guacamole made tableside, "nachos de barrio" with "artisanal chips," and queso fundido with Chihuahua, Gouda, and Manchego cheese. A ceviche of Peruvian bay scallops and gulf shrimp was sweetened up by the addition of corn and Granny Smith apple; onion, cilantro, and citrus were scarcely detectable, and the blue and red tortilla chips (I guess that's artisanal) lacked appeal. Short rib sopes? Sweet once again, and served in masa boats so hard they were difficult to cut. Despite this, a sope with chicken verde (also available as a taco filling) was by far the best thing I tried at Barrio, tender and flavorful. There are some reasonably priced standard entrees like carne asada and cochinita pibil, but the emphasis is on the tacos, of which there are eight varieties, including both grilled and battered fish (the latter the most successful of those we tried), and a vegetarian number with mushrooms, mozzarella, and apples served in a lettuce-leaf wrap. The lengua came drizzled with a cloying sauce that not even the hottest of the salsas could counter. Service was solicitous and quick even as the rooms began to fill with a neighborhood crowd—and that's clearly the audience this not-at-all-challenging restaurant is aiming for. If you're looking for destination dining, Chilam Balam is right around the corner. Read the full review >>

Kate Schmidt

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