It’s no secret that Meg and I are OBSESSED with Mexican food. Our Instagram feed is overrun with margarita pictures (#sorryimnotsorry). Many a blog meeting has occurred over margs and queso. And, our best ideas tend to be made under the influence of tequila and lime juice (freshly squeezed please). When new Mexican joint Bartaco opened up in the neighborhood, we just had to check it out for ourselves.
Bartaco is traditional Mexican meets taco joint meets cocktail place. There are two types of Mexican restaurants that we frequent – the down-and-dirty, margarita-pitchers-for-$14 type places (think Taxco and Jalisco) and the higher quality margarita and trendy taco spots (think El Taco and Tin Lizzy’s). After visiting Bartaco far too many times now, I can tell you that it doesn’t quite fit into either category. But don’t be alarmed because for some people, it allows for the best of both worlds! The menu is family style, but not the kind of family style at Italian restaurants where 6 people share two large pasta dishes and a Caesar salad. Family style here means that everyone writes down their order on a little slip of paper (sushi-restaurant style) and things come out from the kitchen as they’re ready on large trays. Not my definition of family style, but that’s what they’re calling it, so we’ll go with it 🙂
Regarding what to order – start with a Bartaco margarita, plain and simple, and order the guac as you peruse the menu. The cocktail list is pretty robust for a Mexican restaurant with more than just multiple flavors of margaritas. The Old Thymer is perfect for bourbon lovers, and the Pisc-eau Sour is another one of my favorites for happy hour.
For you down-and-dirty Mexican restaurant lovers, I am just going to come out and say it: cheese dip is NOT on the menu. Before even looking at the menu, Meg announced that she would be having cheese dip for dinner. When I explained that they didn’t have cheese dip on the menu, I thought she was going to request to speak with the chef about this madness. But, she kept her cool and declared that this wasn’t actually a Mexican restaurant if there was no cheese dip. I took another sip of my marg.
Back to the menu: the tacos are tiny, so I usually order 2-3 and a side. They are also super cheap $2.50 each or 3 for $7. My favorites are the portobello with queso fresco, veracruz fish (not fried), chicken and pork belly. The tacos are simple, yet satisfying to the taste buds. For the sides, my favorite is the grilled corn with lime, cayenne, and cotija cheese – it is worth every last corn kernel stuck in your teeth. The plantains are also a good option for an app or side. Meg got the stewed beans with pork and said it was fantastic.
I love the tacky hole-in-the-wall places as much as the next person, but the décor of Bartaco sets it above the rest. For starters, it’s located in the super up-and-coming West Midtown district (is it still considered up-and-coming? or can we consider it up now? Let us know what you decide…) just down the way from Bocado. The blue, white and wooden beach bar feels makes you feel like you are no longer in the city of Atlanta. In the warmer months, the white-washed patio is perfection. They don’t take reservations, but even when it’s super crowded I have never had to wait long for a seat. Plus, the bar area is expansive, so you can order a marg while you wait.
Give Bartaco a try the next time you are up for Mexican, and save us a seat at the bar 🙂