Busting Down Bartaco

I mean, it’s good. But it ain’t dat good! 
Bartaco. It’s as the kids say, “Aight.” Not great. Not “Holy sh*t! It’s da bomb, son!!!” It’s just OK.
I know a bunch of you are freaking out. I also know a bunch of you go there religiously. Heck, I have at least six friends that go there quite a bit. How many times have I been? I can count those visits on two fingers. And only once was to get actual tacos. The other visit was strictly booze and I could barely hear my friends over the absurdly loud music.
So why the lack of visits? It’s not outstanding. In fact, I don’t even like their tacos. I know Bartaco might pass as “authentic Mexican” in Westport (that was meant to be racial) or even Downtown Stamford (other locations in Hartford, West Hartford, Port Chester) but it sure as hell doesn’t equate to Mexican for me. 
Now this is where you say, “Dude, they’re probably not trying to be Mexican!” 
That’s fine. So they’re officially Chipotle then? It’s American food! I’m not even entirely sure it qualifies as Californian or South American.
My experience…
What I got on my visit to Bartaco was bland meat with a little cilantro on top. Thankfully their sauces did not lack spice or flavor so that made it all bearable. The fact that they call these things tacos? Deplorable. Serve these to the chef at a real taco shop in the area, or you know, to a real Mexican, and I’m sure they’d laugh. “Taco,” a Mexican term? I think not. Don’t use it if you’re not official with it. 

And yeah, I guess my feelings are hurt when a restaurant has the word “taco” in its name and their side dishes were the best part of the meal. I can give them props for the coleslaw and the corn; even their plantains aren’t too shabby. Fine, their churros were decent too. (Although Lorca has the churro market on lock right now and for the foreseeable future.)

So before you lock yourself in a Bartaco bubble (just made that up!), consider other taco joints that are killing it in the taste department. Taste meaning THEY ACTUALLY USE CHILES AND SEASON THE HELL OUT OF THEIR MEAT. A little fresh pico on top doesn’t hurt either.
That list: Casa Villa, Rincon Taqueria, Tacos Mexico, and even though I’m not considering them a true Mexican taco shop, Bodega Taco Bar has to be mentioned. At least Bodega’s Mexican-American-Californian-South American fusion whatever wakes up your taste buds, and the rest of their menu rocks too. 
And Friends, I didn’t guzzle Haterade all day to dream this post up, it was a long time coming and now just happened to be the time. But I still think you should try some REAL, or as close as you can get to REAL tacos before you fall in love with a place that tosses flavorless meat and some chopped herbs on top of a tortilla and has the audacity to call it a taco.
And I’m out!
*Pro tip for restaurants (and Bartaco): Take the music off your website. We’re annoyed by that shit!
** Apologies for the poor photo quality. These pics were taken a while back with a seriously inferior camera. I just couldn’t think of anything positive to write back then. But now, you know, turn a negative (or a rant) into a positive. Or something like that. 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anna says:

    Cool blog! It's always nice to find foodies + food bloggers to follow in CT… but I have to say, I do go to Bartaco all the time… and some of this info seems a bit off and quite surprising. Like the part about flour tortillas. They are definitely corn, and I only know that 'cause of a personal food allergy. This I made sure of too, a few years back when I started taking frequent trips and vacations to Mexico… also just corn tortillas of course, because it's what the locals eat and what's considered authentic. Thank goodness for that, otherwise I wouldn't have been eating all those vacations 😉 Also, I've never seen pico de gallo as a garnish on the tacos in Mexico. The various restaurants I've been to have been pretty consistent and authentic with a simple onion and cilantro garnish, similar to what Bartaco does.

    Anyways, look forward to seeing more foodie posts!


  2. I actually corrected that part because of your Tweet so thanks for pointing that out 🙂

    Pico isn't common, but it's nice once in a while. Rincon Taqueria does it and I promise you, if you go there, you'll love it.

    This actually came about mainly because I know people that love Bartaco or hate it. And while their tacos are affordable and most find them creative because they have never been elsewhere, they just don't stand up flavor wise. I actually think I could make a similar taco at home.

    Funny enough, I was blown away by a friend of mine (who is Mexican) when she had a taco party. Where her family comes from, the taco shells are fried and stuffed with pulled chicken. Then you top them with potatoes and carrots, cheese, sour cream. Very different, but better than anything you can get around here.


  3. Jessie says:

    Ha! There's a great taco truck by the Cumberland Farms in Norwalk you might want to check out too! And Valencia in Norwalk, although I'm not sure if that's actually a Mexican place…

    One place I really like: Fajitas and Margaritas on Main St. in Danbury. Mexican and Ecuadorian cuisine. I can't do a “foodie review” of it, but I can say that I really like their quesadillas and guac and it's authentically “some sort of Spanish” as Peter Griffin would put it — as in the three times I've went, my fellows and I were the only people in the restaurant who weren't speaking Spanish. http://ctboom.com/can-help-savetheloom/


  4. I know the truck you're talking about and have heard good things! Valencia is not Mexican but they do a hell of a job (it's one of my absolute favorite places to eat in Norwalk).


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