There’s a spicy matrimony taking place in Sydney’s CBD that includes tacos and tunes until the early hours of the morning. Let the neon lights on Elizabeth Street lure you downstairs to Barrio Cellar, a new collaboration between Kings Cross taqueria, Barrio Chino and underground European-style club, Spice Cellar.
The vibrant tequila bar takes inspiration from New York’s famed Mexican bar and restaurant, La Esquina. The owners of Barrio Chino, Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway, have always admired the subterranean brasserie, so their ears pricked up when they heard Spice Cellar had outgrown its city location and was moving to Erskineville. “The first time we walked down into Spice Cellar it reminded us of La Esquina. We knew immediately this was our new project,” says Lew. Spice Cellar owners, Rebecca Alder and Murat Kilic, will look after the music in a fusion that will energise Sydney’s post-midnight dining scene.
Barrio Cellar opened in the basement of the Martin Place heritage building after award-winning interior-design firm, Luchetti Krelle added its polish to the space. The sunken cellar has an Art Deco feel; it’s pared-back with a speakeasy vibe, wide booths and a welcoming communal table.
Lew and Galloway’s recent Mexican street-food tour through Los Angeles and Tijuana with their executive chef, Kieran Cronin, inspired the menu. “We literally had 10 meals a day – we wanted to immerse ourselves in Mexican food culture as much as possible,” says Lew. What they have brought back are killer specials for anyone with a penchant for spice. The signature tequila and mezcal cocktails from Barrio Chino are sticking around, but the only other item hitching a ride with the team is the cult favourite Barrio Burger.
New dishes include the chicharrón – smoky chilli pork crackling and arbol mayonnaise – and bacon-wrapped hotdogs with pico de gallo, cheese and jalapeños. Mariscos (seafood) tacos with calamari, market fish or crispy prawn will come out of the kitchen until 3am. Drinks such as the Carlitos Campfire (ginger, agave, Monkey Shoulder scotch and Bruxo mescal), and the Rhubarbarita, a rhubarb margarita, make good use of tequila. DJs play until lights out, so we suggest you load up on the tortas and Tommy’s Margaritas for a big night ahead.
Basement level, 58 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
(02) 9232 7380