The Draft Pick

Get sporty this spring with pub favorites with a Mexican twist

What's in a name? The Draft Pick Grill and Cantina's name says it all: it's a restaurant that focuses on pub favorites but with a south-of-the-border kick. This new addition to the Barry Trails Shopping Center creates an oasis of good food and lots of entertainment for the sports lover and non-fan alike.

The space was formerly occupied by the short-lived tropical concept, The Escape. In December, Sarah and Pablo Acebedo opened their take on a sports bar. The space includes several televisions, all tuned to the biggest games but they also feature events for those of us non-sports inclined. Thursday nights will feature karaoke. Recently they spotlighted a New Belgium Brewing tap takeover. Plush couches in front of a gas fireplace creates a loungy feel for those not partaking in the menu.

But the menu is the real reason to come to The Draft Pick. It features most of the dishes that you would expect at a sports bar: nachos, wings, and pretty much anything fried, but they also offer a trio of housemade salsas and guacamole. In the entree list, the menu gets a little spicier. They offer their take on the massive burrito trend, offering build-your-own burritos for $8.99 or sizzling fajitas for $10.99-$14.99.

On my first visit with my husband, I was so hungry that I was afraid poor decisions would be made. Luckily, our appetizer, a soft buttered pretzel with cheese and jalapeno ranch dipping sauce ($5.99), arrived in under five minutes. Although tempted by the Tex Mex-influenced dishes, I had to try the Deluxe Potato ($9.49). As I ordered, I asked our server if it would be filling enough and he laughed and nodded. When it arrived sizzling on the same size skillet as the fajitas, I understood his reaction. The potato, which was sizable on its own, was covered with grilled onions, four types of meat, sour cream, cheese and red sauce. Needless to say, I had to take half of it home.

My husband decided to try one of the burgers. His Border Burger ($8.99) was perfectly cooked, with a chipotle cream cheese spread, bacon and fried jalapeno coins on top. The flavors blended perfectly for a burger with spice but not heat. He had a choice of sides and went with the fries, hot and crispy.

With our meals, we had the remnants of the New Belgium Tap Takeover. While the normal draft list features the usual suspects–Budweiser, Coors, Boulevard–I was excited to see a craft brewery taking center stage. They have more craft options in bottles and are rolling out a cocktail menu as well. The prices are very reasonable and they offer a happy hour and reverse happy hour as well as daily specials.

On my second visit, I was in the mood for a sandwich, and although I almost never order anything deep fried, I couldn't resist the housemade pork tenderloin ($8.99). On top of a toasted Kaiser roll, the tenderloin was large, but not obscenely huge. The batter was light, and almost tasted like a beer batter. Most importantly, it wasn't over salted, the death knell of sandwiches of the like, when no amount of mayo can save them.

The special that day was for a dollar off of tacos, so my husband tried a mixed trio of fried cod and chicken for $6.99 on special. While the preparation was appealing, the amount of meat was a bit light, with lettuce and cheese doing the heavy lifting. The order came with three tacos but no sides. The dish was a strike on a menu filled with homeruns.

Each time we have visited, the service has been incredibly fast and friendly. Alfonso Respero, owner of the now defunct Pancho's Villa, is at the helm of the staff, ensuring that the operation runs smoothly and efficiently. With good beer on tap and in bottles and great food specials every day of the week, I can see The Draft Pick quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite.