Restaurant review: Baro

The buzzy, bumping Baro features refined takes on Latin street food with great cocktails to match


What’s the vibe?

The folks at Baro are no stranger to King West. Chef Steve Gonzalez was at the helm of a similarly successful operation – Valdez – for three years just a few doors down the road. The buzzy, bumping Baro retains much of what made Valdez a hotspot – a 4,000 square foot multi-floor concept that covers food, drink and dancing late into the night.

You can easily spend an entire evening at Baro, bouncing from floor to floor experiencing a slightly different vibe as your evening progresses from after-work drinks to dinner and then to the hidden password-protected bar in the back. An all-season rooftop is in the works (slated to launch this spring) and we’re excited to come back and check it out.

What to drink?

The cocktails alone are definitely worth a visit to Baro. Bar manager Wes Galloway has crafted a solid drinks menu with plenty of Latin twists. The restaurant’s signature Baro Sour is an elevated take on the classic Pisco sour with tangy flavours from passion fruit and guava as well as two types of piscos from Chile and Peru. For a sweeter, fruitier option, try the Five Flower – a vodka based cocktail topped with soursop foam and decorated with edible flower petals.

Those longing for something stiffer but still on-theme can look to an impressive lineup of Latin spirits like piscos, cachaças and some pretty killer mescals. You’ll also find the usual suspects here – draft and bottled beer along with a decent range of local and international wines by the glass.

What to eat?

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Fans of Valdez’ most popular eats will be happy to hear that much of Chef Gonzalez’ signature menu items live on in Baro’s menu. The chaufa fried rice continues to capture hearts and stomachs, featuring thin strips of duck with tobiko fish eggs for a pleasant pop. It’s definitely a large serving with more than enough to share between two.

But we were even more impressed with Baro’s ceviches, which were the standout of the evening. We tried the Asian-inspired Nikkei, which sees cubes of Japanese hamachi fish brightened with ponzu and lime juice. Crispy slices of fried lotus root are a picturesque (and delicious) alternative to the typical nachos or plantain chips. Make sure you save room for dessert – pastry chef Baura Lao’s churros are simple yet perfectly executed with a slightly doughy centre and a side of salted dulce de leche for dipping.

Dinner and drinks for two: about $120

485 King Street West; 416-363-8388;