Just a short walk past the row of fraternity and sorority houses on Spruce Street is Don Barriga, a bright, new Mexican restaurant that sticks out under apartments on the corner of 45th Street with a sweet exterior design and a bunch of chairs and tables that beckon passersby to sit down and enjoy its selection. Inside, you’ll find a soft ambiance as the fans hum and the music plays, ideal for a brunch date with some friends.
When we sat down, we learned that the restaurant was part of a family history—owner Pedro Campos explained that his fellow owner Carlos Barriga began working with his siblings at their parents’ restaurant in Upper Darby a number of years ago. After discovering this newly vacant location near campus last winter, Campos and Barriga opened Don Barriga without looking back, and have been here for over three months now.
The walls inside are filled with traditional decorations and paintings as well as a chalkboard listing the homemade drink of the day, a set of desserts, and weekly favorites, while the kitchen lies in the back behind the counter. With the fans setting a nice breeze, Don Barriga has a comforting homey aura that adds to its authenticity. Additionally, the employees are friendly and ensure that you enjoy your dining experience.
The menu isn’t short on options, offering a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, tacos, burritos, and more. The restaurant also accommodates some dietary restrictions, including multiple vegetarian selections for the different menu categories.
We began with the complimentary chips and salsa, which included a mild salsa verde and a hot salsa roja. The flavors balanced one another very well, with the savory verde matching the spicy kick of the roja. We then tried the homemade drink of the day, an horchata with a smooth, milky tang that was perfect for washing down the chips and salsa. The unique flavor was akin to a sweet iced coffee and helped cool us down from the heat outside.
For entrées, we chose veggie enchiladas and a steak alambre, both of which were presented magnificently with the rice and beans sitting neatly next to the meals’ main portions. The rice and beans were cooked to tender perfection, melting into each other perfectly. As I devoured the enchiladas, I savored their piquant flavor among the peppers, zucchini, and creamy sauces. Similarly, the steak alambre was warm and comforting, with the well–cooked meat providing a juicy burst alongside the cheese and crispy fajita vegetables. As a nice touch, our waiters also provided tortillas so that we could construct our own tacos with the meal.
The service was excellent, with a minimal wait for our food and timely check–ins from the employees. Overall, Don Barriga checks all the boxes, especially with its great hospitality and countless mouthwatering options to choose from on the menu. Cozy and lovely, it takes Mexican food to a whole new level and is an excellent destination for lunch or dinner on any given day.
TL:DR: An outstanding and diverse selection of Mexican cuisine that will have you craving more.
Location: 4443 Spruce Street
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday : 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.