Boathouse restaurants opened Casa del Barco in the former Reynolds building at the 12th and Byrd Streets at The Locks on the historic Canal Walk.
Casa del Barco definitely feels like the Mexican sibling of the successful Boathouse restaurants (interestingly enough, Casa del Barco is spanish for "boathouse".) You can definitely feel how professionally managed and well-run the restaurant is. All the hostesses and waitstaff knew their routine and script. There were people buzzing around to make sure your needs were tended to. I know that most people would see this as a really good thing, but it did feel just a touch "chain-like" to me. Not a bad thing, perhaps not my favorite quality of a restaurant, but that's just my very personal opinion which is probably the opposite of the general public.
Anyway, it's a very well run operation and I could imagine them expanding Casa del Barco all around the country one day!
|Beautiful atmosphere, a lot of thought went into their decor.|
They also have a pretty cool looking growing collection of empty tequila bottles in the ceiling!
The food was absolutely delicious. Executive Chef Todd Richardson (also of the Boathouse fame) blends recipes from his Guanajuato roots using local ingredients from sustainable farms.
The highlight of my meal was our starter, the crab guacamole ($10):
|crab guacamole at Casa del Barco, so amazingly delicious|
Next up was a set of 3 Tacos ($12 I think?), which I noticed has been changed on the menu, when I looked today, I just found the 2 taco option, I guess 3 Tacos was too much for the average person? Tappan and I thought these were fine, but they were the weakest item of what we had ordered.
For our entrees, I ordered the Roasted Salmon ($19) with corn, bean, and squash stew and cilantro crema. DELICIOUS. Crisp, perfectly roasted. Except I wasn't a huge fan of that yellow ring around the meal, not sure what that was.
Tappan ordered the Chipotle Roasted Pork Shoulder ($18) with pickled onions served on banana leaves with crispy plantains, arroz a la Mexicana and black beans. He loved it and it was such a large potion, I definitely helped him finish it.
|LEFT: Roasted Salmon|
MIDDLE: 3 Tacos
RIGHT: Chipotle Roasted Pork Shoulder
Casa del Barco has the most extensive stock of tequilas in the region-- over 150 varieties. Tappan ordered from their huge drink menu and chose a margarita that came with two different hot sauces, which he loved. I had a plain-ol' vodka soda.
We ended the night with Fried Ice Cream ($9) with habanero honey glaze. It was filled with a different type of ice cream from what had been mentioned on the menu, but it was still delicious!
|Fried ice cream at Casa del Barco|
The one major complain about Casa del Barco that I've read/heard is that it's difficult to find and park at the restaurant. Valet parking is available at the end of 12th street at the Christopher Newport Memorial. We chose to do valet, which was fine, except for when we went to pick up our car and at first the man impolitely insisted that we hadn't already paid, although we most certainly had. To park without valet, go straight on VA St, parking lot is ahead on left. Validated parking (for up to 3 hours) is also available in the Riverside on the James parking garage (make sure you ask for a parking validation ticket from the front desk.) From the garage, walk past the art walk to cross the canal.
Check out their menu, it has something for everyone...
We haven't been back since January, but it's just because I'm waiting for the weather to warm up so that we can sit outside and eat crab-guacamole on their water-front patio :)
|yummy in the winter, but it'll be ever better when we get to enjoy it|
on the water in the warmer months :)
What's your favorite item to order at a Mexican restaurant?
I will eat most anything off any Mexican restaurant menu, but the thing that gets me every time....fresh guacamole, salsa and chips!!