Infusing modern Mexican food with craft beer, Beer Barrio, 34 N. Front St., aspires to be the neighborhood bar that pairs world-class cuisine with world-class beer.
For husband-and wife-team Hayley Jensen and Stephen Durley, opening the doors to Beer Barrio in June was a dream come true.
Durley was working as a chef in New York City at the DBGB Kitchen and Bar when Hayley–after traveling throughout Europe researching beer and working in London’s craft beer scene for several months–made her way back to New York City to work as a beer sommelier at the same restaurant. It was there that the couple met, and their dream began to take root.
“Craft beer was really elevating the beer selections at bars and restaurants, but the food wasn’t coming along with it. It was all frozen and fried food and we really wanted to change that,” Durley said.
After a few bitter New York City winters together, the couple decided it was time to retreat to a warmer climate and open their own restaurant.
“When we visited Wilmington we knew right away. We felt very welcomed,” said Jensen. “From the time we started researching it seemed like each week we saw a new brewery or beer business opening up and we wanted to be a part of that growth.”
They believed the new place should feel like your neighborhood beer bar, and wanted people to feel welcomed and at home, so the name Beer Barrio came to mind. Barrio, in Spanish means “neighborhood,” and serves as a reflection of how they wanted a place for the neighborhood to share some of Jensen’s craft beer selections while dining on Durley’s fine Mexican cuisine.
Durley—who has appeared on the television show “Beat Bobby Flay” and featured on The Cooking Channel Online— promises his craft beer infused Mexican food is “all goodness with no filler,” and makes everything from the salsa to the guacamole in house, sourcing as much local meat and produce as possible. One of his favorite dishes is his beer braised beef tacos, which comes with a flour tortilla, cheddar jack cheese and lettuce, pico and chipotle sour cream, all wrapped in a hard taco shell.
Jensen’s involvement in the beer industry has led to previous appearances on “The Today Show” and “Fox & Friends,” along with feature articles in national publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She serves as the restaurant’s general manager and beer curator with 30 of her favorite draft taps behind the bar.
When asked about which one she enjoyed the most, she just smiled and said, “Wow, that’s a hard question. That’s like asking someone what their favorite song is—I mean what am I going through? How am I feeling, you know?” After flipping the options in her head, she said her current mood reflected the Asheville brewed Sierra Nevada.
Beer Barrio is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information, to reserve a table or to view the menu, visit the website or call (910) 769-5452.