The laidback style of Mexican cuisine and simple food designed for sharing makes for a great night out with friends. Add to that a few Margaritas and you have yourselves a terrific evening.

Barrio Chino in Kings Cross is the latest offering from Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway of Fei Jai, Cantonese restaurant in Potts Point. They’ve teamed up with Joe Hargreave of Tacolicious (San Francisco) to take Sydney’s Mexican experience to the next level beyond a takeaway burrito. The name Barrio Chino means Chinatown in Latin America – a clever little tribute to its sister restaurant.

Barrio Chino offers real Mexican; there are no sour cream or cheddar cheese-laden nachos to be found here. Brazilian head chef Rafael Tonon’s dishes are refined, whilst still keeping true to the popular Mexican food staple, the taco. These are simple, unfussy dishes that are great for sharing and pack a flavour punch. Most of the dishes are fairly mild, so for those who like their Mexican with a bit more of a kick, there is a trio of hot sauces on offer.

The 'Botanas' on the menu are snacks to whet the appetite. Popular favourites are the Tuna Tostadas (corn chip topped with tuna sashimi, avocado, chipotle mayo and crispy leeks) and chargrilled corn topped with chipotle mayo, queso and lime. And that's just for starters.

The tacos offer some great flavour combinations with a few interesting elements thrown into the mix: Camarones (grilled prawns, kiwifruit salsa and chilli jam), Chicken Borracho (chipotle-beer braised chicken, crema, avocado, iceberg lettuce), Spicy Tuna (seared yellow fin tuna, jalapeno garlic sauce, pineapple-jicama salsa) and Calabaza (roasted pumpkin, capsicum, cactus, toasted pepitas) to name a few. Add a dash of the tart green tomatillo or smoky chipotle sauce and you're onto a winner!

For meat lovers, Barrio Chino has steak and pork aplenty, including their Baby Back Pork Ribs with tamarindo-habanero glaze and jicama-apple slaw.

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If you manage to make it to desserts and go the Churros with dulce de leche and chocolate, you won’t have any trouble cleaning your plate.

The dimly-lit space is divided into several different areas. The long bar, with its excellent range of tequila, leads into a main dining room dotted with candles, offering both communal tables and cosy booth seating.

The drinks list is something special. Created by Naren Young, a bartender with some serious street cred and 15 years experience studying the craft of the cocktail, you should try the Stealth Margarita (with cucumber, agave and jalapeno chilli salt), or for something a little sweeter, the Breakfast Margarita (with grapefruit, agave and marmalade).

Barrio Chino ticks all the boxes, from the cool, laidback atmosphere and great food to the well thought out drinks list. Check it out.

Barrio Chino
28–30 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
(02) 8021 9750

Tue to Sun 6pm–late