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“Overpriced, bad food in a nice setting. Don't do it.”
Review of Casa del Barco

Casa del Barco
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Ranked #72 of 1,603 Restaurants in Richmond
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $20
Cuisines: Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Description: Residing in the restored Italianate Building at The Locks on the historic Canal Walk (formerly the Reynolds North Plant), Casa del Barco is Richmond's singular destination for authentic Mexican cuisine. Beverage Director, Michael Avery, has compiled the most extensive stock of tequilas in the region - over 120 varieties to entertain the palate. From rare Anejos to robust Reposados, the selection is sure to impress the novice as well as the most cultivated enthusiast.
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Overpriced, bad food in a nice setting. Don't do it.”
Reviewed May 13, 2013

My husband took me to Casa del Barco yesterday for Mother's Day. We'd been dying to try it, since we are huge fans of The Boathouse. But our experience was so bad, I know we'll never go back...

Let me start by saying that the restaurant is trendy and industrial inside--very cool. We were promptly greeted by a friendly hostess who didn't mind changing our table to one outside on the canal, which was nice. And that, folks, about sums up the good points about Casa del Barco.

We ordered the chips and guacamole as a starter. It took an unusually long time to arrive--about 20 minutes. In fact, everything that we ordered took a long time and the restaurant was not even busy. It was a very chunky style guacamole and it would have been delicious, but it tasted like it had no salt in it. I don't know that I've ever salted my food at a restaurant, but this guacamole was in definite need. Such a simple oversight.

I ordered the house salad. $5 for a small plate of mixed greens with some pickled onions, and a couple of pieces of cucumber and tomato. The hibiscus dressing sounded different, but it too, had absolutely no flavor. Way too much money for a plain side salad.

On to the entree...and the low point of the meal. On my waiter's recommendation, I ordered the seafood enchiladas. They were the first thing he (quite excitedly) mentioned. He said they were "chock full of scallops and shrimp with a crab queso on top." We've never been there before and I love seafood, so I took his suggestion and ordered them. We waited nearly 45 minutes for our entrees to arrive and when mine did it was served on a platter with small bowls of black beans and mexican rice. My entree was in a silver lidded bowl. The gentleman removed the lid with a flourish and I just stared. It was just a huge bowl filled with white queso sauce. I had to grab my fork, pierce the layer of "skin" that had formed over it because it had clearly been sitting for so long, and dig around to find the enchilada. When I did, I found a corn tortilla that was burned on the bottom and a few shrimp. They weren't fresh shrimp, they were those little tiny little frozen shrimp that are about the size of a quarter. Oh, with a few of the dime-sized salad shrimp thrown in. For a grand total of seven shrimp in my enchiladas. No scallops to be found. No crab in the queso. To add insult to injury, those seven shrimp were insultingly overcooked, like chewing rubber. I tried to salvage a few bites, but I there wasn't much that could be done. Who wants to fish around in a bowl of queso to pull out pieces of soaked tortilla and overcooked salad shrimp dripping in cheese sauce? Not this lady. The sides were stone cold and I even dug under the top layer to see if it got better underneath. Nope. Just cold, expensive food.

I honestly still can't believe that this entree left the kitchen with a thumbs up. It was, hands down, the most revolting thing that I have ever been served in a restaurant.

My husband ordered the hominy and empanadas and he said the hominy was pretty good. He only ate one of the empanadas.

Our waiter was friendly enough, but really inattentive. He would mention refills, then disappear for long stretches of time without them. We stopped asking for anything. He never checked on us after we began eating, asking if everything tasted ok (perhaps he could tell from the plates of uneaten food?). We also noticed that the runners from the kitchen had no idea where they were going. The three tables around us were each served food that they had not ordered, but was meant for the next table over. Quite negligent service here.

So here's the thing. What makes this entire experience so offensive is this place is really, really expensive for Mexican food. When you go to a restaurant where you pay $10 for guacamole and $15 for enchiladas, you expect that they are doing something amazing here. I'm okay paying for really good food, because food is meant to be enjoyed, but this is not the place to do that. There is no excuse for a restaurant to be charging this much for under seasoned food, stone cold food, and food that has no business being served to anyone.

The bottom line is that something is wrong at Casa del Barco. It seems like enough time has passed that the kinks should be worked out by now. But they're not. And it's not worth spending over $100 to find out if I'm wrong. Trust me, I'm not.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank got2getoutthere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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139 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
32 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Looking for a nice restaurant? How about Mexican? Really!”
Reviewed May 4, 2013

I like Mexican food but somehow places that serve Mexican food generally mean just mediocre as far as being a restaurant. Casa del Barco in downtown Richmond is not your typical Mexican restaurant. First the atmosphere is great. Located on the canal walk near Brown's Island with a great outdoor dining, you feel like you're in a vacation spot. Go on a nice day and sit in the outdoor patio. Often patio dining equates to practically being in the middle of an intersection - not here. It's overlooking the walkway and canal area something Richmond needs to really capitalize on.
But dining inside is equally as nice. The interior of Casa del Barco features recycled wood timbers and metal from a former business that was in that location. The ceiling features tequila bottles that have been enjoyed and autographed by customers. The atmosphere is cool, upscale, urban and comfortable ... And somehow very RVA.
And the food and service is awesome. On both of my recent visits I was quickly attended to by pleasant helpful professional waiters. My lunch favorite is Pollo Mole Tacos - delicious and fresh. Not like Taco Bell or other typical Mexican places.
I look forward to visiting again and again! Congratulations Casa del Barco and welcome to RVA!

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Dianspgh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
“Terrible service, salty rice, no hot sauce”
Reviewed March 30, 2013 via mobile

We had an 8:30 reservation, and were not seated until after 9. The service was painfully slow and the food was only mediocre. The server made fun of someone in our party who ordered water and actually told him he could "fetch the water from the canal." There was only one bottle of hot sauce in the entire restaurant and the waiter loudly banged the bottle next to our table to unclog it when it wouldn't come out. The rice was salty enough to give you a heart attack. The only halfway decent part of our experience was the bacon guacamole, which did not even have the bacon in it the first time it came to the table. Very disappointed, will not be returning.

Thank Jj S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Elegant Mexican cuisine on the canal walk”
Reviewed March 3, 2013

I must admit I've been waiting & wishing for more authentic, regional & fancy Mexican food in Richmond, where many folks are still hooked on hard tacos & stuff covered in liquid yellow cheese. Casa del Barco did not disappoint me. They specialize in seafood and since Mexico has plenty of coastal cuisine this is a welcomed change of pace. I went for Sunday brunch with friends. They have interesting drinks and a good selection of draft beers including an Agave Wheat beer that matches well with spicy food. We ordered some traditional guacamole & a Veracruz whitefish ceviche to start. Both were about as good as any that I have had. Very fresh with plenty of cilantro & lime. They also brought a variety of interesting salsas to the table. A green sauce with a hint of cucumber, an arbol chili sauce and a garlicky white sauce. I had the duck tacos. They were so good I want to go buy a duck & roast it crispy so I can make some at home. The flavor & tenderness of the meat was wonderful, like rich caramelized carnitas. And the simple garnishes and uncomplicated presentation let the duck meat take center stage. Topped with a fresh salsa or some thick dark chili sauce the tacos were both traditional and inventive without being too fusion-y. The black beans that came with my meal were seasoned nicely with onion & cumin. My co-diners enjoyed smoked mushroom tacos, huevos rancheros, and Chilaquiles. The only thing we didn't love was the desert. We shared some fried ice cream & some Mexican wedding cookies - both were a little underwhelming. We were told the ice cream would be coconut but when it came it was rosehip ice cream instead, and the little corn-flake covered balls were rock hard like they had been taken from a freezer & plopped on a plate. The sour rosehip flavor & the cold hard topping wasn't what we expected. But that was just a tiny bump in what was otherwise a very pleasant experience in a cool location.

Visited March 2013
Thank Banyuls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Midlothian, Virginia
Level Contributor
26 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Just what Richmond Needs”
Reviewed February 15, 2013

Had an awesome Valentine's Day experience. For the longest time I have been saying that Richmond needs more "homemade" restaurants. Everything here is made from scratch. For example, the Mole sauce consists of 24 ingredients and made fresh daily. The atmoshphere and decor is incredible and the staff (and this is an understatement) was tremendous. Even better, it is affordable!! You can get some expensive entrees, but we decided to go the appetizer and taco side! Excellent variety of drinks and priced nicely. I think my wife and I just found our favorite new restaurant.
The Crab Guacamole was incredible!!!

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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