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Although I’ve been handling the recent Seattle heat wave fairly well, last night I decided it was time for a little evening A/C to help me cool down.  To that end I changed my previous restaurant selection for the evening to one I felt certain would provide cooling relief, Barrio on Capitol Hill.  Unfortunately I was wrong about the A/C, although we never really figured out if they didn’t have it or it wasn’t working.  Either way, it was warm inside.  Too warm, really. 
Barrio’s interior is filled with interesting lines and elements:  the massive wooden doors that great you at the entry; the curvy bar topped with a mosaic of various-sized and shaped pieces of slightly off-white tile; the tall wooden wrap around booths that reach for the sky; and the room divider made of open squares and filled with large column candles all make their impression.  I’m sure the wall is beautiful at night but at 7:00 pm with the sun still heating the uncooled interior the heat from the lit candles did not help with the comfort factor.  It seems it would have been a good decision to leave them unlit.  My friend who was sitting closest to the wall finally blew several of them out as the heat they produced was more than could be handled.  The interior is much larger than I had expected, yet I’m sure it will be packed on weekend nights. 
(Side note:  People don’t realize how much heat a little flame can produce.  I once read that the heat from a votive candle can keep you alive if you ever end up stuck in your car in freezing temperatures.  In several areas of the country candles in cans are sold specifically for this purpose.)
Despite the relative discomfort of the heat we decided to tough it out.  If we sat relatively still and kept a cool drink in hand it was bearable. 
To this end we both started with cocktails, a Margarita, declared by my friend the connoisseur, to be one of the best ever, and a gin concoction called Cucumber Cocktail #1 for me, which was beautifully refreshing and tasty.  Next we ordered the Ceviche Sampler with three small versions of this fresh fish dish:  halibut with shrimp, pineapple and cilantro; salmon with avocado, onion and chile; and sea scallop with mango, chile and onion.  I liked all three versions equally well but my friend thought the salmon was the best.  The ceviche was served along with yucca chips which were perfectly crispy and had a hint of sweetness, and a plate with limes, chili sauce and salt. 
Several items on the menu included pork of some sort and all of the items sounded delicious.  We settled on the Pork Cheek Tamale with Salsa Negra.  I’m not sure what the technical definition of Salsa Negra is but this one seemed to include mole which really made this dish. 
After the tamale we decided we were just too warm to eat another bite. 
Barrio is owned by the same group that has the Purple Wine Bar and Cafes.  They seem to have done a good job branching out into this new venue and cuisine, although I’ll really need to come back again to see if that holds true.  This location has been open since December and another is slated to open in Bellevue later this fall.   It will be located in the Bellevue Towers along with a Purple Wine Bar. 
I look forward to going back and trying a few more menu items.  Although I’ll make sure I do that on a much cooler day. 
1420 12th Avenue
Capitol Hill

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