Who would have thought a year ago that the prospect of a simple lunch could be quite so thrilling.

I'm always excited to eat out – especially somewhere I have not been before – but I have to confess I've become very used to the privilege and easy convenience of having a meal abroad, not to mention the joy of not having to do the washing up.

So when we set out for Durham one weekday lunch time it was with the intention of making the most of our previously-taken-for-granted freedom.

Barrio Comida has been on my list of places to try since it first opened in February. Sadly I hadn’t quite got round to it pre-lockdown but it was my first choice when restaurants started to open again last month and I'm pleased to say it more than fulfilled my expectations of casual dining with a relaxed atmosphere and knockout food.

Though new to Durham, it has been around in the North-East since 2015, starting off as a monthly pop-up before turning into a year-long residency on Newcastle’s Quayside. It is now a full time restaurant in Durham’s Church Street, next to Durham’s Students’ Union, with a killer view of the cathedral.

In the absence of going out, I’ve been honing my cocktail making skills during lockdown with my repertoire up to a solid half a dozen classic combinations that I can knock out when required. My absolute favourite; the margarita. I’ve been having at least one Mexican night a week to justify shaking one up but good as I've managed to get it, there's nothing quite like drinking one on a sunshiny terrace while someone else rustles up the tacos to go alongside them.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The restaurant is pretty much perfect for our post-Covid world. We had a big table to ourselves outside on the sizeable terrace. Each table was kitted out in a very jaunty plastic tablecloth, both gorgeous to look at and easy to clean, and we used a phone to peruse the menu, order and pay.

It all felt a bit novel (though I suspect not for long).

The menu is pleasingly simple – a selection of eight tacos, with a handful of side dishes.

They recommend having two tacos each, which are all priced between £6-£7.50, though for a modest lunch you could probably just have one.

This was not meant to be a modest lunch however and thankfully the current climate allows one to dress up greed as acting in the national interest to protect our fine businesses. So we selected four between the two of us, with an extra side of prawn ceviche and some fried spicy potatoes.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The sides came first so we had them like starters. I loved my ceviche, which came with a chipotle cream and avocado and was so lovely and fresh I could have eaten it all day long. The potatoes, smothered in cheese (or queso if you're sticking to the lingo) were decidedly not on the light side, but tasty nonetheless.

Moving onto the main event, each portion was made up of two filled corn tortillas, which helpfully meant we could share without having to fall out over who got the bigger half.

I would have happily tried any of them, but in the end we went for the carne asada (£7), Carnitas – filled with Michoacan style slow cooked pork (£6), the Al Pastor, a Mexico City style pork (£6) and a Birria, with braised lamb (£7.50)

Other options include charcoal chicken, fried fish and two vegetarian options.

First up was the lamb, which was served with a cup of consommé and the recommendation to dip the whole thing in. Not the tidiest of operations, I’ll admit. But it was good enough to make it worth getting a bit of consommé on your chin for, with luscious lamb and meaty, savoury broth.

They operate an add your own salsa policy, offering three in various shades of orange and with varying degrees of hotness, and an interesting bright green coriander one, giving the customer a chance to play around to his or her own personal preference.

I loved the slow cooked pork as well, with its smoky, spicy flavours and the carne asada, which was served up with guacamole.

The crispier Mexico City style pork, which was served up with pineapple, was less to Carlo's taste - though it meant I got the extra pineapple.

For pudding we both had the same milk and honey ice cream – a magical concoction of milky ice cream, slathered with honey dulce de leche and huge hunks of honeycomb and little morsels of something that tasted a lot like a parma violet. It’s not for anyone who can't handle their sugar, that's for sure. My teeth were glued together by the stuff, but in the best possible way.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

As a child growing up in Northern Ireland one of my favourite types of ice cream was honeycomb – or Pooh bear ice cream as we affectionately called it – and I’m always disappointed it doesn’t seem to feature more in English menus. Dessert-makes take note – this is how you should do it!

I was still feeling a bit giddy from the joy of being out – or maybe it was the heady mix of honeycomb and tequila – so I finished off with a Mexican hot chocolate, with a generous dusting of cinnamon, while Carlo had a coffee.

After fully pigging out, the final bill was £62.60, which included one cocktail.

Barrio Comida

34 Church Street, Durham, DH1 3DG

Tel: 01913709688

Web: http://barriocomida.com

Opening: Tuesday - Saturday 9am-10pm (hot food available from 12pm) Sunday - 12pm-5pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, Service 9, Surroundings 8 Value 8