johnny cakes

Fargo Foodie | Barbacoa Serves Spice Without the Price

johnny cakes
Johnny Cakes are a unique twist on the usual fare, with taco-like toppings on sweet pancakes.

Article updated on Nov. 15 to fix pricing

Getting into a food rut is all too easy, especially for busy students who spend a lot of time on campus and have next semester’s tuition to think about.

But sometimes taking an evening to meet with friends somewhere a notch above Applebee’s provides all the motivation necessary to finish off a stressful week.

Barbacoa is the most recent addition to Fargo-Moorhead’s bursting cuisine scene. As their slogan says, this restaurant is “bringing the flavors of the south a bit further north.” And what a welcome change it is!

Their menu features Central American dishes. Think Mexican, with a twist. This is not you average Midwestern knock-off Mexican chain, with zero spice and everything swimming in cheese. Jalapenos pepper the menu (excuse the pun), so many items are sure to pleasantly clean out your sinuses.

barbacoa tacos
The Barbacoa Tacos are filled with barbecued pork, salsa and queso.

As for the type of foods, you will see plenty of barbecue, tacos and nachos. But there are also Johnny Cakes, sort of like mini tacos, with pulled chicken, cheddar and jalapeno relish on corn batter pancakes. It might sound weird, but it proved delicious.

Their other apps include staples like nachos and quesadillas, as well as Pork Belly Corn Dogs, Fried Oysters and Chili Relleno, a chili with green chili sauce, cream cheese filling and egg batter. Prices range from $7 to $11, but most are perfect for sharing.

For the main course, we tried the tacos, always a favorite in any college student’s diet. The Barbacoa Tacos are filled with tender barbecued short rib and topped with chunky, fresh pico de gallo and queso fresco. Warm juice dribbled down my chin as I, normally not a meat fan, slowly chewed the delicious beef. It is $14 for two tacos plus a side of heartwarming garlic rice and lentils.

For vegetarians, the Fried Avocado Tacos are equally tasty. They came topped with pico de gallo, ranch, sriracha and queso fresco.

barbacoa bar
The stylish, low-key bar offers the perfect alternative to table seating.

Main dishes range from $12 for two Avocado Tacos to $23 for a full stack of ribs. Visit from 4 to 6 p.m. for happy hour specials, including $3 tacos and $5 chicken baskets, as well as $3 beers and $3 off a glass of wine.

For dessert, check out the Warm Pecan Pie or Rumchata French Toast. They also have sweet potato, vanilla bourbon and coconut lime custard.

Barbacoa has a fairly robust offering of alcohol, with some interesting mixed drinks. The Warlord is probably unlike any drink you have had before, with cilantro infused vodka, pineapple and jalapenos! Plenty of spiciness and a Bloody Mary-like savory quality reminiscent of a Hawaiian pizza.

With ritzy decor yet a low-key atmosphere, as well as plenty of tables and bar seating, Barbacoa offers flexibility.The menu also offers many gluten free and vegetarian options, a welcome sight for those with special dietary needs. Reasonable prices and unusual foods add to the allure.

Barbacoa open on Oct. 19 and is located in South Fargo.

If you love spicy, flavorful foods, then Barbacoa is a must-try. The only downside is that you might need a ride to get there: it is just off 32nd Avenue South in Fargo.

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