I really don’t understand the choice of the name Barroco here, as the place’s charm comes from it’s more rustic nature. Maybe it’s an ironic name. Like when you call your 6′ 4″, 400lb friend “Tiny.” My first piece of advice: go to Barroco on a Tuesday like we did. I can’t imagine the mad house this place is on the weekends. From the road, it’s easy to miss. The parking is all street parking, and even walking in to Barroco doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in what you’ve just gotten yourself into. Ignore your first instincts. We opted not to observe the kitchen, and instead headed to the back into the dining area. There are a lot of two person tables back here, and the tables are quite small. I wouldn’t walk in with more than four and expect to be seated immediately. Although with how friendly and helpful the staff is, I imagine they’d figure something out for you.
So we sat down and were handed a very small menu full of Columbian classics, none of which I’d ever seen, but not once did I feel lost or alienated reading the menu. This is a delicate act and one that’s rarely done right.
To start, I really wanted to take the “try new things” thing to an extreme and even go with a drink I’d never had. I ordered a “Columbiana,” an item which had no description on the menu. The waitress told me it was like Champagne, one of her favorites, and assured me I’d love it. I believed her. And right she was. It was a cherry/citrus soda and it was very good. Also at her recommendation, we ordered the “Cheesy Corn” as an appetizer (pic below). I realize it doesn’t sound appetizing, but let me tell you, it’s labeled the “Star of Barroco” for a reason. It’s cheesy, it has chicken and bacon,and it’s amazing. When you go, get it.
For dinner I ordered a steak (mid-rare as it should be) topped with a tomato and onion sauce and a fried egg, plantain chips, and cilantro rice, all for $15. Incredible. Moreover, my steak was cooked perfectly. How is it that this tiny Columbian restaurant can season, cook, and top a steak so perfectly and all these STEAKhouses can’t even manage the basics? It’s a travesty. Honestly, next time you want a steak, skip the chains, hit up Borroco. Even if you aren’t looking for any of the trimmings, put them to the side and eat the best steak you can get for under $30. Everything on my plate was new to me, (except the rice of course) and I couldn’t be happier I tried it. It really was wonderful. I used their assortment of delicious sauces (even though one of them was clearly mostly Frank’s Red Hot haha) on everything, and it was overall a great experience.
Finally we come to dessert. The dessert was an espresso/butterscotch tasting flan-like dessert. I don’t normally care for anything coffee flavored, but this was well balanced. The only complaint I have is that it was very sweet. My girlfriend really seemed to enjoy it though, so maybe it was just me.
Overall, Barroco was incredible. I know now what people mean when they describe somewhere as “_______’s best kept secret.” Barroco is unassuming, but you’ll never forget it. The decor is simple and interesting, and they completely pull it off. The food is amazing, the staff is very cheeful and helpful, and I will absolutely be back, and often. Hopefully with some people from out of town so they can leave with a great sense of what Cleveland food can be. I also have one thing left to explore. A few tables had six packs of random beers (Shock Top, Great Lakes Dortmunder) on their tables. Not sure if they’re brought from outside or bought there, but either way, it’s awesome. Next time you’re trying to decide on a place to go for dinner, head to Lakewood to try something new. You won’t regret it.