Mexican pop-up Barrio Comida opens first standalone restaurant in Durham - selling top-notch tacos and Mezcal

A former Mexican pop-up venture, which built up a firm following with its high quality tacos, has opened its first stand alone restaurant.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 7:48 pm
Barrio Comida, Church Street, Durham Picture by FRANK REID.
Barrio Comida, Church Street, Durham Picture by FRANK REID.

There’s been much hype around the opening of Barrio Comida, the latest business to join Durham City’s thriving independent restaurant scene, after its pop-up venture closed on Newcastle’s Quayside two years ago.

The latter proved so popular that bigger premises were needed to meet demand and the company has now gone from a shipping container of 20 covers at its pop-up to nearly 200 seats at its new site in Church Street, in the shadow of Durham University’s Students’ Union.

Around £700,000 has been ploughed into the purpose-built site which will be open seven days a week, creating 25 new jobs.

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Barrio Comida is the brainchild of chef Shaun Hurrell, who honed his skills in the kitchens of London under Michelin-starred chefs such as Marcus Wareing and Fergus Henderson, before carving his own path in the North East.

The laid-back ethos and affordable price point of the Quayside venture will remain at the new site, which has a ground floor taqueria and bar, and a patio with views looking over to Durham Cathedral.

Shaun, who has partnered with UpNorth and GastroNorth for the new restaurant, said: “We did our best at the shack in Newcastle but we were hindered by the size.

“What attracted me to this site is that I’ve always liked Durham as a city and this site gives us so much more space to achieve what we want, with amazing views. An outside space suits our type of food so it was important to have that.”

Owner Shaun Hurrell in the kitchen

Shaun, who hails from California which borders Mexico and shares much of its food culture, said: “A taqueria at its best is something that should be open all the time, like a McDonald’s it should just be there. We want to be part of the neighbourhood offering everything from a coffee in the morning to an evening meal with friends.

“There’s a good independent scene in Durham, but it’s more focused on the cafe side, than the restaurant side, so we want to add to the tapestry of that.”

The pop-up Barrio Comida, which ran for a year, attracted people from around the region and Shaun says he’s looking forward to being able to boost that offering in the new site, which is designed to look like a traditional taqueria with hand-painted street signs.

Diners can expect traditional tacos inspired by neighbourhood taco stalls in Mexico and California, seasonal specialities and carnitas, as well as a colourful drinks menu of 50 different Mezcal, natural wines and cocktails such as margarita and Pina Colada.

The restaurant is in a new purpose-built site in Church Street

It’s the latest new venture to open in Durham City which is undergoing major change along the river with the multi-million pound Riverwalk and Milburngate developments.

Barrio Comida opened for business on Monday, February 3 and will operate seven days a week, from 9am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 5pm on Sundays.

The restaurant specialises in authentic tacos
Barrio Comida, Church Street, Durham Picture by FRANK REID.
The restaurant has views of the cathedral