How many Latin American’s does it take to change a lightbulb? A Brazilian. It only takes a few, however, to recreate the best Latin fiesta that London's ever seen. After a recent relaunch, bumping 'Central' from their name in exchange for 'Soho', Barrio Soho is now back and better than ever. To be fair, as a descriptor, 'Barrio Soho' is miiiles better. You can’t tell your Uber driver to take you somewhere ‘Central’, and expect anything more than a vacant WTF face. That’s a bit like asking someone where they went on Friday, and them just saying: ‘Out.’ So, if you’re heading out this weekend, then make sure it’s to Barrio Soho.
Barrio Soho has pride of place on Soho’s Poland Street. The venue is a tasteful homage to Latin & Caribbean culture; a vista of bright clashing colours like a big ol’ handful of dolly mixture. Their kitschy décor makes the atmosphere oddly warm and inviting, kind of like a neighbourhood get-together. The booths at Barrio are inside pastel-painted sheds, which are wonderfully reminiscent of our misspent youth: hiding out in a friends garden like a particularly tame episode of skins. There’s retro furniture, fairy lights and greenery galore- it’s a bizarre but charming cross-pollination of indoor and outdoor. We were particularly taken by the Lemur wallpaper, almost as if they’d run out of thematic decoration and thought ‘Lemurs: they’re South American right?’ Hilarious. We wonder if there’s a UK themed joint in Latin America decked out with Pygmy Shrews.
Music: Latin, Soul, Live
Dress Code: Smart/Casual
Train Station: Oxford Circus
Address: Barrio Soho, 6 Poland Street, London, W1F 8PS
All of Barrio’s cocktails are accompanied on the menu by a song which they think perfectly sums up the concoction, which is an interesting sales tactic - and they’re surprisingly apt. Imagine all the terrible Tinder dates we could avoid if every match had a personal soundtrack? Highway to Hell, Bad Romance, Unfaithful… we could use that kind of thinking. Make sure to try Barrio’s signature cocktail, the ‘No-Brainer’: a generous rum based cocktail served in a Mexican wrestling helmet. If not, we would personally recommend the hilariously titled, ‘Papa don’t Peach’ because we love a good fruit pun. Most cocktails are around £8, or you can nab a glass of wine for an average of £6. However, if you make it there for “Amigo Hour” (Monday through Thursday 3pm-8pm and Friday-Saturday until 7pm) cocktails are priced at £4.50, bottled beer is £3 and a bottle of wine is a fiver off. You can even get involved shaking your own cocktails here, which is great fun and fits surprisingly well with the upbeat Latin music being played. If they replaced everyone’s maracas with cocktail shakers, imagine how quickly they could dish drinks out...
You’re never fully dressed without a smile, right? Well that seems to be the house-rule here at Barrio. It’s pretty impossible not to crack a smile when everyone here looks so bloomin' happy. Smiles are super contagious after all and with a ‘Papa don’t Peach’ in each hand, we don’t think we’ve ever been this deliriously happy ever. In fact, we’re looking a bit Ventriloquist dummy. Barrio Soho is frequented by international twenty-somethings who are drawn here for its warm, neighbourly atmosphere, safe in the knowledge that it is guaranteed party territory. Expect flames, tricks and a round of tequila shots at the bar with the staff. You may even get some tapas out of it, too.
It’s refreshing and actually somewhat novel for Soho to feel laidback, as at Barrio Soho you feel super comfortable from the get-go. It is a colourful blur of confetti, feathers and what we think was rum but cannot be sure. Despite the fact it’s been open since 2007, Barrio Soho still keeps things fresh and exciting -just like Kool and the Gang. The smiley disposition is practically unheard of in London, so has an odd ‘holiday’ vibe which we’re always keen to embrace. And the best bit? Barrio isn’t just in Soho, they have brother bars in Angel, Shoreditch and Brixton, so no matter which obnoxiously vague direction you give your Uber driver, you’ll surely find one of them!