Since 2018, Barrio has been a cozy destination in North Beach to enjoy tacos wrapped in hand-pressed blue corn masa tortillas with a cold pint of California beer. But co-owners Billy Riordan and chef Tim Milojevich say they often dreamed of bigger things for their neighborhood restaurant and craft beer bar. “We always knew we had something special about food and so we always wanted to grow,” says Riordan. Now the two are on the verge of making that dream come true when Barrio opens a second larger location in Ghirardelli Square on July 9.
Riordan acknowledges that Ghirardelli Square is better known for serving tourists than locals, but he hopes Barrio will help change that reputation. The Latin Kitchen and Bar joins other local businesses Palette Tea House and The Cheese School of San Francisco, which Riordan says will collectively improve the quality of dining options in the area. He hopes Barrio’s next waterfront location, like the original one on Powell, will ultimately serve as a place for friends to catch a Giants game on TV at the bar and for local families to enjoy. a brunch overlooking the patio.
Riordan and Milojevich both bring decades of industry experience to their latest project, including time spent at La Mar, the Peruvian fine-dining restaurant on the Embarcadero known for its fresh seafood and spectacular views, where the duo met. Milojevich started there as a cook of fries after moving to San Francisco from Oregon, eventually rising through the ranks to Cebiche Bar Manager; Riordan is a native of San Francisco who has held just about every restaurant job, from line cook to executive chef.
The menu, however, is distinctly Milojevich. Rather than focusing on the cuisine of a specific country or region, Barrio has always drawn inspiration from a handful of geographies and Milojevich’s experiences. “I didn’t want to open a standard taqueria,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to do anything authentic or regional, I was just relying on my experience.” The chef lived in Quintana Roo, Mexico, so you’ll see Yucatan influences on the menu in the form of cochinita pibil marinated in citrus and slowly roasted in banana leaves. He also traveled to Lima, Peru while working at La Mar. So the focus will be on fresh seafood specialties and, of course, a Peruvian-style ceviche on the daily menu. of corn, sweet potatoes and classic leche. tiger. Brunch will come later this summer with a menu that includes morning classics like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and a breakfast burrito.
The biggest deviation from the format fans may be familiar with at North Beach Restaurant won’t come in the kitchen, but in the
bar. Unlike the original, which only serves beer and wine, Barrio’s second location will feature cocktails. Another industry veteran, Michael Carlisi, is behind the bar’s program, which will focus on agave spirits. House cocktails include a margarita, daiquiri, and michelada, as well as a Spanish sea breeze that mixes sherry and mezcal with grapefruit, honey and lime. There’s also a selection of large-format drink options geared towards groups, including a jug of margaritas and round tequila shots, in case you need that drink option officially listed on the menu. For those familiar with the original location, don’t worry – there will always be a respectable selection of Riordan handpicked beers, including local beers from BareBottle Brewing, Laughing Monk, and Moonlight Brewing.
The 2,500 square foot space was designed by Erin Riordan, who says the Ghirardelli Square location will be “the finer sister of North Beach’s taco punk rock vibe.” The sun-drenched space includes a rotunda dining room with wraparound windows overlooking the water park and an elegant 15-seat bar. A 50-seat patio showcases both the iconic Ghirardelli Square sign and the bay with bar seating, high tops and tables for parties of any size. A mix of industrial accents, hanging plants and colorful paper picados lends a relaxed, playful energy to the space which is enhanced by a trio of murals. In the restaurant’s private dining room (nicknamed The Masa Casa), there’s a vibrant crab painted by local artist Max Ehrman. Diners will be greeted with the logo of the Barrio Agave Goddess behind the bar and a stylized mural of the San Francisco skyline on the host booth, both made by Chris Peralta, a local artist and bartender from Barrio North Beach.
Like just about everyone in the restaurant industry, Riordan says surviving 2020 was no small feat for Barrio. But the expansion now makes sense, he says. In the end, the mission is relatively simple: “Let’s all take a deep breath, have a good time,” he says. “Now that we can all get together again, we think we’ve got a pretty good place to do it. ”
Barrio opens Friday July 9 for lunch and dinner, with weekend brunch arriving later this summer. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.