Barrio Cellar, near the corner of Martin Place and Elizabeth Street, is unarguably one of the best late-night bar and diners in the area; an underground hub of Tequila, Mezcal, and Mexican eats that keeps drawing people in like flies unable to tempt the bright red neon “Everything with Tequila” sign which greets you before you head down that spiraling staircase. Descending to this hot spot for a lively drinking session any day of the week has been a popular option for Sydneysiders and visitors, but Barrio Cellar is just as equally valuable as a diner, even more so now that they have introduced a share-focused set menu showcasing various bar snacks, sides, salsas, and meats.
The set menu has a fixed price of $55 per person which gives you two choices of meat from the main part of the menu, with everything else included. It starts off with a round of Chips with fresh Guacamole, a basket of Chicharrones (smokey chilli pork crackling), and Ceviche, an option which rotates according to the market fish of the day.
The fresh guacamole has smashed avo with lime juice, onion, and coriander, perfect for one of the venue’s popular Smokey Rose cocktails. Though, I’d suggest saving some of the tortilla chips for the arbol mayo, which comes with the chicharrones, rich and well balanced making an essential dip for both the chips and the crackling. I enjoyed the blue-eyed code ceviche which was cured with lime and beetroot, but even though the dish was bright and full of flavour, I found the beetroot a bit too overpowering for the cod.
The Comida Para la Familia course consists of your choice of two meats, and it’d be advisable to go with the Chipotle & Honey Glazed Roast Pork Belly as one option, and either the Guajillo Roasted Lamb Shoulder or Ancho Braised Beef Short Rib as the second. Another option is the Pen Roasted Chicken with lemon and chilli de arbol butter, but the other three are just too superior to pass up.
While all the meats are incredible, the pork belly stands out with it’s sweet, punchy glaze that fills the mouth with flavour before the tender meat melts on the tongue and the very crispy crackling provides some texture. Coming in second would be the lamb shoulder, a generously sized lamb on the bone with more than enough meat, pulled and roasted with a mild kick from the Guajillo chillies.
The meats are served up with soft corn tortillas, sides, and a range of house-made salsas so you can adapt the meal to your tastes, with a varied colour pallete from lime wedges, tomatillo, cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos, onions, ancho chilli salsa, pico de gallo, and habanero sauce. Approach the habanero with caution as it’s packed with heat, but there are levels of spice for all tastes here.
The DIY meat tortillas give you a chance to try different flavour combos before finishing up with some Churros, nice and dusted with cinnamon and sugar, dipped in salty dulce de leche.
Barrio Cellar’s newest set menu definitely represents for the great value the bar has been bringing to Martin Place for just under a year now, reiterating this spot as a diner as much as it is a bar, with some of the best casual Mexican dining in Sydney.
Address: Basement Level, 58 Elizabeth St, Martin Place
Contact: 02 9232 7380
Hours: Mon & Tues 4-11pm; Wed 12pm-12am; Thurs & Friday 12pm-3am; and Saturday 5pm-3am.