Barrio, the laid-back North Beach beer bar and Latin restaurant, is making big moves this summer with a second location opening at Ghirardelli Square. The much-larger new restaurant from co-owners Billy Riordan and chef Tim Milojevich will open for lunch and dinner on July 9 in the former Pico and Lori’s Diner spaces just east of the intersection of Polk and North Point streets.
At 2,500 square feet, the new restaurant is nearly triple the size of the original; Riordan says the team will use the extra room to take the waterside location to the “next level.”
“I think from the beginning, we had a game plan that the little pub in North Beach wouldn’t be our end game,” Riordan says. “We decided it was either time to take the next step or find a different career path, to be honest with you. You know in life when you come to a crossroads, you can either take the opportunities that come to you or not. We decided to do that and to expand. It just was kind of the right time.”
The Ghirardelli Square location will sport a similar menu to the first, which is inspired by the time Milojevich spent living in Mexico and cooking Latin food at restaurants including La Mar, another waterfront San Francisco spot located just north of the Ferry Building. Fans can expect a selection of tacos and quesadillas, both of which are served on tortillas made from blue corn that’s nixtamalized in house.
But there will be a notable few deviations. For one, Barrio Ghirardelli Square will have a full bar — North Beach serves beer and wine only — headed up by industry vet Michael Carlisi, whose resume includes time at Comal, Slanted Door, Douglas Room, and RX Bar. Diners, meanwhile, can expect more seafood options at the Ghirardelli Square spot, including the restaurant’s popular fried fish tacos, which will be on the menu daily. Right now, they’re a Tuesday-only special at the North Beach location because the kitchen can’t accommodate frying fish for tacos on top of the restaurant’s tortilla chips, which are made to order.
The new space has been designed by Erin Riordan with the intention of offering a more refined vibe than in North Beach, which is known for being a cozy neighborhood hangout. The centerpiece of the new location will be a 15-seat bar and rotunda dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing views of Aquatic Park. A 50-seat patio will also provide views of the bay with a lounge area built for larger parties.
Ghirardelli Square may be better known as a pit stop for tourists hoping to snap a photo in front of the brick building and its iconic marquee than as a destination for locals looking to catch a Giants game on TV. But Riordan says that reputation stands to change with Barrio’s debut in the historic space just off the water. He points to the opening of other local food and beverage businesses, including Palette Tea House and The Cheese School of San Francisco, as a sign of the square’s shifting identity.
“Who says you can’t have a neighborhood pub overlooking Alcatraz, right?” he says.