Barbata is the newest addition to cocktail scene

Barbata is a new, hip tavern Downtown.

With the ambiance of an English pub, Barbata is the perfect after-work destination.

“At the end of a long day or a long week, it’s the perfect place to unwind,” said guest/PCC piano professor Raymond Ryder.

Co-owner and executive chef Tyler Fenton echoed a similar sentiment in a statement.

“Much like the beloved bars of Spain and Italy, Barbata is the perfect place to both start and end an evening, and we’ve created an atmosphere that is a warm, intimate, and approachable extension of the restaurant upstairs.”

Barbata is the latest addition to Downtown and sits below Bata Restaurant at 35 E. Toole Street. In addition to Bata and Barbata, Fenton also owns and operates Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink with his sister, Courtney, and brother, Zach. Reilly has locations at 101 E. Pennington Street and 7262 N. Oracle Road.

The spirits and cocktail offering includes a curated selection of vermouths, sherries, amari, and other apertivos and digestivos, along with nine signature cocktails including the Mixed Smoked Kitt Peak old fashioned, with small batch bourbon, single hive honey, bitter and smoke; and the olive oil bigelow martini, with olive oil-washed California gin, navy strength gin, dry sherry, and vermouth. Four beers, nine wines by the glass, four wines by the bottle, and a cider are also available.

Barbata’s cuisine is designed to pair with drinks. The nine small plates range from a Spanish tortilla with aioli, to Cantabrian anchovies with extra virgin olive oil and lemon, to beef tartare with burned bread aioli, mustard greens, and toasted potato breadcrumbs. Additional offerings of jamon serrano and mortadella, sliced to order, are available by the ounce. Basque cheesecake and a cream puff with embered cream top off meals.

Try the marinated Arizona chickpeas, followed by a plate of sliced jamon serrano and a plate of mortadella. Then there’s the toasted pan con tomate, similar to Italian bruschetta.

“It’s a marvelous complement to so many of the other dishes,” Ryder said.

After that, enjoy a slice of Spanish tortilla. Ryder feasted upon the beef tartare, made with burned bread aioli, mustard greens and toasted potato breadcrumbs.

“Sometimes steak tartare can be kind of bland, but this has a lot more going on, lots of flavor,” Ryder said. “It’s a little more seasoned; it has a little more character.”

To satisfy the sweet tooth, Barbata offers a slice of Basque cheesecake or a cream puff filled with embered cream.

Working with craftsmen from Midtown Artisans, Fenton chose rich maple and oak woods throughout Barbata’s interior, which tend toward blonde, offering a bit of brightness to contrast the board-formed concrete throughout the basement. These lighter woods and colors offer a counterpoint to the somewhat heavier woods, with walnut and oak hues, of the restaurant upstairs. These themes tie the two floors together while keeping them intentionally separate and distinct.

The bartenders, who are true mixologists, can concoct most drinks for guests.

“They make an excellent classic Manhattan, even though it’s not on the menu,” Ryder added. “It’s not something everybody knows how to make.”

Mixologist Kyle Morris, who doubles as a server, also made a refreshing, nonalcoholic Campari and spritz, which is what he said he drinks. It’s an off-menu selection.

“It’s not your appetizer, entree, dessert,” Morris said. “It’s very different, but satisfying.”

“What I am most excited about Chez Barbata is what we all love most about the restaurant industry itself,” Morris said. “Highlighting very unique cocktails and locally sourced food, all packaged in this most amazing vibe and basement bar that’s very unique.”


Downstairs at Bata Restaurant, 35 E. Toole Street, but enter through the Seventh Avenue in the back, Tucson


4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays