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“A fun spot that is definitely needed in Downers Grove”
Review of Barbakoa

Barbakoa
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Ranked #7 of 169 Restaurants in Downers Grove
Cuisines: Latin
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: Barbakoa is a modern Latin restaurant designed to give a contemporary appeal with an authentic Latin flavor! The premier spot for tacos and tequila in the Western suburbs, Barbakoa offers outstanding cuisine, an electric atmosphere, and exciting parties and events.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
100 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“A fun spot that is definitely needed in Downers Grove”
Reviewed July 23, 2014

My husband and I decided to try Barbakoa on a bit of a lark. It has very limited parking-we had an early reservation, so we were able to find a spot on our own, but they do offer valet. The inside of the restaurant is gorgeous and eclectic, with a combination of different furniture pieces: a little bit latin farmhouse glam? We were in "date" clothes and seemed to fit in the middle: we saw families in t-shirts and jeans, as well as older couples dressed more fancy than we were, and no one seemed out of place. The servers are friendly and knowledgeable and attentive. The menu is primarily tastings, that enable you to pick from something lighter (if you just wanted to have drinks and some snacks) to more substantial (a multi-course dinner). They offer various salsas, guacamoles, ceviches and tacos in addition to a few plated entrees (if tasting menus aren't your thing-but I strongly suggest the tasting idea: it's fun!). Their drink menu is fantastic, and fairly reasonably priced. The food didn't change my life-but there was nothing I ordered that I didn't enjoy. Downers Grove was in need of a fun spot like this, especially with so many colleges and universities nearby.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank CorduroyArtist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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158 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    55
    61
    28
    11
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Baltimore, MD
Level 6 Contributor
152 reviews
93 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“In and out quick - Good not Great.”
Reviewed July 22, 2014

Was travelling here on business and dropped in for quick meal with a colleague. The menu is more or less a tasting menu, everything is to be shared. We ordered the paella, which said it was for 2-4 people, more accurate would be that it was for 2 people, barely enough to split along with an order of guacomole, which was above average. Paella was a little gloppy, the rice must have been cooking a looonnng time.

Also the caiparinha was superb, just the right blend of tart and sweet

So if you're nearby, drop in, good alternative to burgers and nachos...

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Marty E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Addison, Illinois
Level 5 Contributor
59 reviews
37 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Pleasantly surprised”
Reviewed July 20, 2014

A Latin restaurant in Downers Grove? I was curious, but always willing to try new places. I took my wife & son on a Sunday evening. Weather was beautiful outside so we sat outside. I really like the fact there was outdoor seating to take advantage of days when the weather is nice. My son is a picky eater, but enjoyed the steak tacos. My wife & I started with chips & guac. Not the best, but not bad. Then we shared a Sangria flight - where we chose 3 different types. Very tasty! The best thing about this place is it is designed to share food. We had steak tacos and also the pork with pineapple. Again - not the best food, but good enough to want to come back. Next time I will bring friends and we can try more items from the menu. Worth a visit if you haven't been there. Prices were average.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Tom S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
78 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Modern latin gone wrong”
Reviewed July 2, 2014 via mobile

Decor is modern, colorful and full of life. Service is attentive and friendly. Great tasting mojitos! Poor food quality and taste. Ive been to Decero, Carnivale, Cantina Laredo, Tavernitas and while the decor and vibe is comparable, the food here is a complete miss! I had the Dos tasting menu and it was pretty bad. Guacamole were bland. Ceviche didnt have the right blend of flavors. The soft tortillas used for their tacos were hard and cold with a paper- like taste and consistency by the time it was served. The carne asada filling was dry and again didnt have the authentic carne asada flavor. The shrimp was fried with batter and had a sweet and sour glaze, chinese more than latin. The pork would have better if it had some crunch to it. The battered fish was decent but ive had better versions of this for it to be counted. Sadly, the side dishes were the only ones that had good and interesting flavors- their corn and brussel sprouts!
I live in the city so this isn't worth a drive at all. And if I'm back in the area, i would rather go to hooters and indulge on my favorite chicken wings. I get that i cant expect 100% authentic latin dishes in a modern latin restaurant like this one, but their dishes are not only fake, they are simply latin gone wrong!

Helpful?
Thank Eric_generic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
Level 6 Contributor
200 reviews
132 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 157 helpful votes
“Upscale Latin Fusion”
Reviewed June 11, 2014

Went here for dinner on a week night. Based on the TripAdvisor reviews, we went with the Shared Tastings option #2: two different guacamoles, two ceviches, two salsas, four types of tacos, two sides, and a dessert tasting. I highly recommend this option!

The guacamoles we selected were the Original and the Chicharon. Original was very good, the Chicharon has a very nice smoky flavor. We got the mild and medium salsas - both were flavorful and the medium was on the spicy side of the medium range.

The ceviches were the highlight - the shrimp ceviche came with a spicy citrus sauce that was outstanding. The Amarillo Mixto Ceviche, recommended by our server, had very tender slices of octopus. Sides were a quite spicy version of creamed corn and the excellent Zape beans with bacon and chorizo.

Tacos were the main dish. The Carne Asada and Chicken tacos were way above what we expected - generous portions of perfectly seasoned meat. The Baja fish tacos were good, but we could not taste the fish in the Pescado al Pastor tacos - the only disappointing aspect of our meal. One thing to keep in mind - if you are ordering from the Shared Tasting menu, each person gets four tacos, but everyone in your party gets the same four types.

The "one dessert tasting" is a bit of an understatement. There were five different desserts on the platter, each about 1/3 to 1/2 of a normal portion. They provided a nice sweetness after the savory and spicy dishes that preceded them.

This night they were out of Red Sangria and the other sangria variations that are based on their Red. The white sangrias were a very acceptable alternative, in particular the Passion-Ginger and Caramelized Pineapple.

Service was not rushed, but neither were we. This was a 90 minute dinner, and many of the people who were there when we arrived were still there when we left. Plan to take your time; given the huge amount of food the courses will be more enjoyable if you spread them out.

Prices were a bit higher than a typical Mexican restaurant, but the quality and quantity are way above typical.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Travelin_Man23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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