When Latin American restaurant and bar Valdez shuttered last spring to make room for more condos, King West sighed a collective groan.
Luckily chef/owner Steve Gonzalez has spent the months since touring the city in a food truck while renovations were underway at his new, bigger and better restaurant dubbed Baro.
The 4,000 square foot space, designed by Solid Build + Design, includes a main level dining room, lounge and raw bar on the second floor, event venue on the third, and all-weather patio on the fourth.
There may or may not be a sound-proofed secret bar on the premises too. It’s hidden entrance may or may not be guarded by a bouncer and only accessible to those in possession of the nightly password.
To eat, find a collection of bar snacks on the first floor: four types of ceviche offered in shareable formats, single shooters, or flights, as well as small plates topped with Colombian-style empanadas, arepitas, chorizo, and the house CGS (chips, guac’, salsa) that are addictive and salty “because I want you to drink more,” says Gonzalez.
Those drinks are destination-worthy in their own right. Designed by Wes Galloway, libations like the Five Flower highlight wildflower honey with mango and violet flowers.
Another drink called the Madremonte features an effervescent blend of green grape and gin garnished with carbonated grapes that fizz once bitten into.
Complete meals can easily be assembled from the collection of snacks, but hearty mains include the Ropa Nueva, braised beef with yuca gratin, whole fish presentations, and Chaufa, a bibimbap inspired fried rice dish tossed table side in with duck confit, edamame, egg, and a chili-laced “papi kung fu” which is like a spiced up schmaltz that coats every grain of rice.
Upstairs on the second floor lounge, they’re shucking oysters and slinging cocktails, while the aforementioned rooftop bar will keep the Latino street party alive all year round.
Also soon to launch: BRUNCH! That’s right, you can soon cure your hangover at the same place that caused it. Expect tortilla de huevo and other South American morning foods when brunch launches later this month.
Address: 485 King Street West, Toronto