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A Tiny Taco Joint Serves Food Made With Love

Plus, reviews of a fine-dining sushi spot and a rotisserie chicken restaurant

An interior photo of a small, counter-service Mexican restaurant, featuring a brick wall and tables decorated with colorful talavera tiles
Taqueria el Barrio
Sarah Storrer/Eater

Welcome back to Week in Reviews, an occasional round-up of the restaurant reviews recently written by Boston’s food critics at publications such as The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and Boston.com.

Food Made With Love

Devra First provides an early look at Taqueria el Barrio, a new addition to Commonwealth Avenue near the campus of Boston University. The restaurant is “distinguishing itself in the details,” First writes, serving house salsas with varying spice levels, tortillas from a Springfield company that uses local corn, and birria, a goat stew, which is “rich and savory rather than gamy.” She recommends the torta ahogada, as well as fish and steak tacos. Overall, First writes: “Taqueria El Barrio serves flavorful, reasonably priced food made with love.”

This is the second early look at Taqueria el Barrio, a sibling to Bisq in Cambridge that has been open for about a month. Boston.com’s Erin Kuschner also visited Taqueria el Barrio recently, announcing that she’d happily consume a tubful of the restaurant’s salsa asada.

Flock to Shy Bird

Kara Baskin visits Shy Bird in Kendall Square to take an early look for the Boston Globe. She finds an all-day rotisserie that’s designed to be “accessible and affordable,” per owner Andrew Holden. The food will carry diners throughout the day, Baskin writes. Customers can “live large” with a half or whole chicken, or opt for a “fun twist” on breakfast, like the egg sandwich served on a Portuguese bun. Baskin finds “thoughtful snacks” on the dinner menu, including clam toast with green olives, rosemary black pepper fries, and baked artichoke dip. There’s also a “gyro filled with paper-thin lamb, tzatziki, and sweet confit tomatoes.”

Shy Bird opened late August in Kendall, joining Watertown sibling Branch Line in serving rotisserie chicken and snap pea salad to the Boston area. The restaurant also serves wine, beer, and cocktails.

Eater Boston picks at Shy Bird: the fried chicken and egg sandwich, roasted cauliflower sandwich, and sugar snap pea salad.

Is It Worth It?

Devra First reviews high-end international Japanese chain Zuma in Back Bay for the Globe. She endeavors to discover the luxury and ends up asking: “Who can tell anymore who is rich, or what fancy food is, or who ‘belongs’ here?” Fine dining has changed, but so, too, have the diners. “The truth is, eating in restaurants doesn’t come cheap, and $150 a head is no longer some wild outlier price in dining land,” First writes. Is it worth it at Zuma? It depends what you’re looking for.

The sushi chef deserves high praise, as does the nigiri with properly cooked rice and perfectly sized bites “delicate enough that you don’t get that bear-trying-to-eat-a-whole-salmon sensation,” writes First. She calls out “luscious scallops” with sea urchin and truffle slices, and writes that the signature and robata-grilled dishes really shine, with many forms of steak, including a ribeye that First “eats greedily.” A sleeper hit on the menu: rice hot pot with wild mushrooms and truffles. Overall, First awards Zuma two and a half stars out of four, between “good” and “excellent.”

Zuma opened in late May and has already come under the critics’ microscope with a review from Boston Magazine reviewer Julia Clancy, who found clear winners on the menu, like the grilled scallops and black cod in hoba leaf.

Taqueria el Barrio Lifts Up Boston’s Mexican Food Scene [BG]
Shy Bird Is Already a Place to Flock To [BG]
Is Zuma in Back Bay’s One Dalton Worth the Luxury Price? Our Food Critic Weighs In [BG]
Taqueria el Barrio Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
Shy Bird Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
Zuma Coverage on Eater [EBOS]

Shy Bird

390 Third Street, , MA 02142 (617) 714-4200 Visit Website

Zuma

1 Dalton St., Boston, MA 02115 (857) 449-2500 Visit Website

Taqueria El Barrio

1022 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 Visit Website

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