Cocina del Barrio opens in Edina

A bigger, badder Barrio?

Among the new small plates, Fairbanks's version of the jalapeño popper is a spendy (three peppers to a $7 order) but more refined take on the bar food version of chile rellenos. The peppers are filled with white Oaxaca cheese, so they're far less gooey if you're concerned about detonating a gut-bomb.

The Cocina menu adds several new salads to the Barrio repertoire, among them one that pairs ahi tuna with an avocado and tomatillo salsa, cucumber, radish, orange, and peppery red watercress, a green rarely seen on local menus that looks rather like maroon basil sprigs. (In fact, Fairbanks's menu introduces diners to several lesser-known ingredients, including Mexican huitlacoche, or corn smut, and sour oranges.)

The ceviche selections have also expanded, as have seafood dishes in general. Unfortunately, with the exception of the spicy shrimp ceviche, the other seafood I sampled didn't shine as much as I'd hoped. A generous portion of lobster ceviche looks stunning, as the red-and-white meat is dressed with avocado, hearts of palm shaved into rings, and scallion slivers. But when I took my first bites, the lobster lacked flavor—it wasn't nearly as sweet and briny as its appearance seemed to promise. The wafer-thin yucca chips ended up being the best part of the dish.

Barrio ups the ante: Wood-grilled achiote chicken with black beans and sweet plantains
Alma Guzman
Barrio ups the ante: Wood-grilled achiote chicken with black beans and sweet plantains
Alma Guzman

Location Info


Cocina Del Barrio

5036 France Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Category: Restaurant > Latin American

Region: Edina


Cocina del Barrio
5036 France Ave. S., Edina,
appetizers $4-14; entrées $18-$26

Another problem with some of the small plates: The seafood gets masked. Crab tastes most glorious cracked straight from the shell and squirted with a little lemon, not buried beneath a tortilla. Cocina's filling might just as well have been chicken or cheese. The same problem plagued the $5.50 shrimp tamale and the $11 order of lobster-filled empanadas.

Among the six new entrées, or "platos fuertes," seafood also features prominently. The caldo de mariscos, or seafood soup, is chock full of whatever's fresh—mussels, clams, fish, prawn—but its ruddy broth, a traditional blend of ancho and guajillo peppers and garlic, had all the appeal of leftover bathwater. While sometimes the wait staff could stand to be a little less zealous—those intent on finishing a dish need to protect the last few bites before the plate is preemptively swiped—its attentiveness was appreciated when my party ordered the red snapper with king crab. An employee noticed us picking through the dish and searching, mostly in vain, for bites of the crustacean, and gracefully whisked out a small bowl of extra meat for our party and another that had ordered the same item. The dish was tasty, but the fix was necessary to make it worth its $26 price tag.

I had better luck with the wood-grilled achiote chicken with black beans and sweet plantains, though the entrée list's real winner is the pork rib chop. The bone-on, two-inch-thick trophy comes from local pork producer Compart Family Farms and is brined for 48 hours, then wood grilled so it's pleasantly crusted on the outside. But inside, the pork chop will likely be plumper and juicier than any other you've sliced in your life: It eats almost like a steak. With accompanying corn pudding, roasted mushrooms, and kale, the dish is a great example of the kitchen's capabilities.

For sweets, a pumpkin cake comes with salted caramel ice cream, which is flavored with cajeta, or Mexican goat's-milk caramel, actually, and the unwitting diner wouldn't be faulted for wondering if the cream had spoiled. But get past the odd funk of the first bite and the sourness adds a nice complexity. If you'd rather keep things simple, stick with the crowd-pleasing churros, Mexico's airy, sainted doughnuts that taste even better dunked in liquid chocolate.

So far, Cocina del Barrio's menu doesn't have quite the level of consistency that the original Barrio did when it launched—but, admittedly, the first Barrio set a high bar. With two successes already under its belt, the Barrio team should be admired for upping the ante and establishing an even loftier goal.

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