Aside from chain restaurant Barberitos, there are no sit-down Mexican restaurants in the Five Points food scene. Owners Scott Parrish and Sachin Patel are changing that with their own twist with El Barrio Tacos & Tequila.
The pair’s company, SP2 Hospitality, operates The Pine and The Root in Five Points, and now they’re ready to open another restaurant. They signed a lease for the property in August 2017, but rain and re-zoning issues delayed their renovation progress, Parrish said.
There is no official opening date yet, but the owners hope to open sometime in April, provided they have acquired a certificate of occupancy. Parrish would like to open for service by Cinco de Mayo.
The name El Barrio means “the neighborhood” in Spanish. The owners said they will wholeheartedly incorporate into the restaurant.
“We wanted something that connected with the neighborhood and made the neighborhood,” Parrish said. “We want people to feel like it’s a place that they can call their own.”
Patel and Parrish jumped on the property when the landlord notified them that it was available in the span of 48 hours. Inspiration for the restaurant comes from giving back and catering to the local community that now surrounds it.
A “Wall of Glory” in the restaurant will feature a mural of paintings by local artists depicting Mexican heritage, Parrish said.
“There was a lot of chatter in Five Points about not having a Mexican restaurant and not having tacos and not having margaritas,” Parrish said. “So when that property came up, and we saw the vision of the patio and everything out in the yard, that was the direction that we went.”
El Barrio will feature an expansive patio which can seat up to 85 percent of its customers, Parrish said. It will be open-air but have the capability to be closed during bad weather. Additional seating will extend outside, with about 40 seats located on the front lawn.
The owners plan to create a bike rack and seating area for the bus stop to encourage people to use alternative transportation because of limited parking.
The restaurant already has support from District 4 Commissioner Allison Wright, local representative for the area.
“I like where you can sit and congregate outside when the weather’s nice and have a little more fresher feeling,” Wright said. “So I’m looking forward to that.”
One of the specialty drinks will be a Juan Palmer which is a mix of lemonade, tea and tequila.
“We have partnered with Corazón tequila, and we have over the past year have barrel aged tequila specifically for us,” Parrish said. “So we’ll have our own signature barrel-aged margarita that we picked ourselves.”
Low-price options are a key point in terms of catering to community members from different demographics. Some tacos will be $2.50, for example. As for the food, the restaurant will serve modern, Americanized Mexican with hints of traditional dishes as well. Parrish and Patel will use fresh local farmers as much as possible, as they do in their other restaurants.
The menu will emphasize tacos, but will also include options such as rice and salad bowls. El Barrio will serve house-made sauces, cheese dip and guacamole.
Tina Eckard, president of the Five Points Business Association and owner of Bella Salon, said the community is looking forward to the new restaurant and other development in the area.
“It’s really exciting to see, especially with so many restaurants,” Eckard said. “I think I counted and, without the two new restaurants, we’ve got like 19 places to eat.”
The Five Points Business Association is planning on hosting a “Taste of Five Points” event in late spring or early April. El Barrio, with its spacious lawn and patio, is in the running to host it, Eckard said.
“Really listening to the community and their needs and their wants was a lot of the inspiration,” Parrish said. “Listening to what our consumer actually wants allows us to put our best foot forward.”