The area in Davao City called Barrio Obrero is fast becoming commercialized, what with its proximity to Victoria Plaza Mall, and a university right in the middle of it. I’ve been noticing that a lot of different types of businesses have been opening up in Obrero — Internet cafés, massage clinics or spas (on one street there are in fact three of them!), retail stores… and lots & lots of food establishments.
A new one that I’ve tried twice in the span of a week is Barrio Bistro. The first time, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I wasn’t impressed at all. Together with a couple of friends, we had their Kaldereta, Spicy Ribs, and two kinds of pizza: Barrio Pizza (their house special, I presume) and Hungarian & Onion. Only the ribs made the grade, in my opinion. So the food trip was rather disappointing.
The spicy ribs was a hearty, enjoyable meal. It was indeed spicy, and the meat was tender. And, the rice was perfectly steamed: soft, moist, with just the right stickiness — a lot of times, no matter how good the main dish is, if the rice is bad the whole meal is ruined. The kaldereta would have been good if it had been cooked with more care, and time. I definitely detected an interesting flavor that I’ve never tasted in other kaldereta recipes before.
The two pizzas we had, unfortunately, were a disappointment. They have a buy-1-take-1 promotional offer, but that’s not going to keep their customers happy if the pizzas don’t get better. The crust was just too crunchy, like crackers, and the flavor of either pizza we had was nothing to rave about at all.
But I’m not one to dismiss a restaurant just after one visit. Plus, my close friends did say their non-pizza food was good. So off I went to Barrio Bistro again for a reprise.
This time, I had Grilled Pork Chops, and my dining companions had BLT Burger, Barrio Pasta, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Ham and Cheese Sandwich. The pork chops were tasty, if a bit dry because it was obviously overcooked. But it was a decent meal — and affordable at ₱140 for two big pieces of pork chops. And the rice was still perfect. I like it when restaurants are consistent.
I had a taste of the Barrio Pasta that my friend ordered, and it was satisfyingly good. Basically, it’s spaghetti aglio e olio, but enhanced with bite-sized bits of chorizo. On the other hand, the bolognese was a tad on the salty side. I think the cook may have underestimated how salty parmesan cheese can be. It was flavorful, though, so if you like this spaghetti, don’t forget to remind them about using less salt in the sauce.
Barrio Bistro is open everyday. They serve breakfast food as well — they’re open daily from 7:00am to 12 midnight. To get there, drive from McDonald’s in front of Victoria Plaza, straight towards Obrero on Lacson St. You’ll pass two intersections (Porras and Cervantes streets) and you’ll see the bistro on your left.
The place is not very big — to guesstimate, maybe good for a total of 20-25 people, comfortably seated. They have an al fresco area out back (good news for smokers!). The service is pretty good, too. Free wi-fi available.