I mean, it’s good. But it ain’t dat good!
. 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.
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.