Deep in the Lower East Side, south of the puking hipsters and Lady Gaga clogging restaurants with her entourage…but just North of the city’s most pungent neighborhood (also famous for its cheap buses to Boston), lies an intersection of dopeness. I’m talking about Broome and Ludlow, the home of a handful of bars, restaurants and cafes that feel like a downtown secret.
Last week, friends and newlyweds Drew & Morgan introduced me to a tiny little Mexican restaurant. La Barra Cevicheria denies any specific regional homage, but the seafood-heavy menu feels beachy. It was a 95-degree night, and the air conditioning was like a lazy employee who couldn’t keep up. But something about eating Mexican food while sweating off your eyeliner and downing Pacifico Micheladas seems natural and authentic. Like the Spring Break you imagined before reality arrived with Pizza Hut in Acapulco.
La Barra Cevicheria is small and cramped (frankly not the best destination for obese diners). You will rub knees, elbows, and maybe hips depending on how things go. The music was a well-curated collection of everyone who has graced the stage of the Bowery Ballroom in the past year.
Water and Micheladas are served in tall plastic cups, the kind that normally say Coca-Cola on the side and could withstand a firing range. The daily sangria, served in Ball glass jars, seem about 4 ounces too light.
The menu features a variety of ceviches, tostadas, tacos, tamales and empanadas. With 44 small plates to choose from, the indecisiveness of the overwhelmed finds direction with the Sharing Menus.
I will never order the sharing menu again, and now you don’t have to. Go to La Barra on a date, or with a few friends. Don’t bring your parents, or your boss, or an obese person.
1. Start with the guacamole, and tell them exactly how you like it (super hot with extra lime and cilantro).
2. Move on to the ceviche. While the lobster ceviche is good, it’s not really ceviche, but just a 1/4 of tail. The mixed ceviche was fantastic, and the aguachile looks like a solid choice as well. The leftover tortilla chips from your guac come in handy here. (They’re homemade and awesome)
3. Tostada time. Definitely order the tuna and the crab, and every other option. Order and reorder.
4. Do not order a salad. If you take a date who orders a salad then text your friends from the bathroom and ditch out ASAP. The tacos are okay, highlights being the lobster and the steak.
5. After a meal laced with jalepenos you’ll probably crave something, but go somewhere else.
This little Mexican resto is great at a few things, but over ambitiously tries to take on too much. With intel on what to order and what to avoid, La Barra is a great little hole in the wall for a small crew of rowdy LES dining.
As a side note, I mentioned that Drew and Morgan were newlyweds only to share a hilarious little ditty from their June wedding. It was a Jewish wedding outside of New York, and as the happy couple ceremoniously cut their cake in front of 300+ guests, the lead singer of the hired Motown band screeched “RED VELVET?! RED VELVET?! RED VELVET NOW THAT’S A BLACK CAKE! BLACK PEOPLE LOVE RED VELVET”. Needless to say, this moment was met with uncomfortable sideways glances and confusion. I wasn’t aware cake flavors were preferred by some races over others, (other than the Asian affection towards red beans), but I may have to gather a multi-racial group for a taste test. What will the Pacific Islanders go for?
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