By Dr. Ink
Known for its vague interpretation of “Mexican soul food,” Barrio Star is a colorful destination for dishes made with wholesome ingredients and cocktails using fresh juices, in-house purees and generous pours of tequila.
It’s home to one of my favorite margaritas in San Diego, a blood orange concoction that sneaks in about a shot and a half of tequila. The alcohol is effectively veiled by blood orange puree that is made on site. In the absence of sweet and sour mix, it’s so fruity and refreshing that you’ll easily lose track of your intake.
I brought along a first-time visitor to the place, and she loved every speck of whimsical décor hanging on the vibrant-colored walls and placed on shelves above the bar. Skulls, paper flowers and ceramic hens are not excluded in an overall, year-round theme celebrating the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Perched at a communal hightop just feet away from the bar, she craved a cold Corona with lime and I couldn’t resist the blood orange margarita.
I had passed on the citrusy drink the last time I came for happy hour, opting instead for a mild lip burn from the roasted jalapeno-blackberry margarita. Despite its pleasing sting, the berry element stole the show. Both margaritas sell for $8 each during happy hour. In addition, several select beers (including Corona) are $4, and wines and sangrias are $5 a glass.
A couple of light munchies rounded out our visit. For only $3, we noshed on a long row of thickly sliced cucumbers drizzled in a cilantro-lime vinaigrette that showed hints of cumin and red chilies. Very addicting.
We also tried the $5 ensalada pequena, which yielded only four forkfuls of lettuce, radishes and corn salsa. On top were two triangular tortilla chips. The accompanying dollop of cotija ranch dressing was the salad’s high point.
The drink discounts, plus deals on tacos, run all day on Tuesdays. You can score tacos filled with everything from spicy chicken and carnitas to salmon, steak, and soy chorizo for either $3.50 or $4 apiece.
Barrio Star is owned by restaurateur and cookbook author Isabel Cruz, who also runs Isabel’s in Pacific Beach, a Mexican-Asian fusion restaurant similarly defined by crafty drinks, healthy food and artistic design elements.