Most people in Connecticut have been through the doors of a Barcelona restaurant, have sipped on sangria, and have fallen in love with their tapas. So, when the same owners expanded with Bartaco in Port Chester, we were psyched but also wondered if they’d be able to keep the quality up while expanding so much. Just months before we were disappointed with Barcelona Stamford as compared to the others – seemed like the sangria was weaker and the food just wasn’t up to par with their other spots.
Bartaco in Port Chester, NY
So, we decided to travel out to Port Chester and see what all the buzz was about. It was a beautiful summer day so of course we sat outside in their really nice patio area. In fact, the decor overall was really nice and cozy…when it’s not jammed to the walls with people, that is. Yeah, this place is always busy, so just be ready to do some waiting. When we sat down we were given the DL on how things work. Mark off what you want on the menu card, put it up on the metal arm, or if you have a question or need help, put up the dragonfly logo of Bartaco. Cool concept!
We started with some guac that was not too bad, but maybe oversimplified with very little more than just some avocado, salt and a teeny squirt of lime. We also ordered a spicy cucumber salad that definitely had a kick, but didn’t have much else going on with it. Again, boring and oversimplified. The cactus dish was fun, spicy, had a vinegary kick, and was just sweet enough to add a nice complexity to this dish. And lastly the grilled corn with lime and cotija cheese was nice in theory but the corn was mushy. Definitely not nearly as good as the same dish at Bodega in Fairfield.
For our meals we went crazy with a mix of Baja fish, pork al pastor, tamarind beef, and spicy chorizo tacos. The Baja fish had a nice crispness to it but was pretty bland and devoid of a real kick or flavor. The pork al pastor was good with a nice amount of spice in it, but we’ve both had WAAAAY better al pastor tacos before, I mean WAAAAY better. The tamarind beef taco, also had good flavor, but nothing mind blowing. I ended with the spicy chorizo taco which had chorizo all crumbled up, kicked up with some nice bold smoky flavor. This was definitely my favorite.
Overall, we thought the food was decent, but not great or amazing as the buzz made it seem. We both agreed that the tacos at Casa Villa blew these out of the water and were not as good as Tacos Mexico in Norwalk.
Bartaco in Stamford, CT
We waited to review Bartaco here to coincide with the September opening of its new spot in Stamford. We waited for about half an hour because the place was packed just like the Port Chester one. We got our seats and saw they had the same kind of vibe going on in here, even with the little metal stands to place your menu orders on. Now we like a rockin’ musical ambiance as much as the next 30 something couple, but DAMN is it incredibly loud in there! Seriously don’t plan to hear what the hell your friends say, or your waiter even. Just pretend and nod your head, they’ll never know.
We got the guacamole that was just like it was in Port Chester. We do like the crispy tortillas that come with the guac though. They’re nice and crispy and salty. We also had the snapper ceviche that also came with lots of cilantro, fresh snapper, peppers, and just the right amount of spicy kick. It was pretty good overall. I saw a Foursquare tip about how awesome the blood orange margarita was, so I decided to go with that. It came out waaaaaay too strong with an overpowering liquor taste. I asked the waitress to add more mix to it and that helped a tiny bit, though it was just way too strong to be enjoyable.
We wanted to see if our original conclusion was correct, that Bartaco tacos were just okay. Well, we had our answer by the end of our meal. I had red snapper a la plancha. The fish and flavors were bland. Unfortunately, the only thing that stood out and gave flavor were the vegetables. Yeah, bummer. I loved the spicy chorizo last time and decided to get more of it this time. Well, this time it was tough and overcooked. The flavor was still there, but I was left disappointed once again. Sadly, this wasn’t the worst of the night. I decided to try the lamb barbacoa taco. The flavor combos with the lamb just didn’t work and seemed awkward and not appealing. There were chunks of lamb fat throughout the taco, but the killer was the chunk of fat that had lamb bone attached to it. Quality control? Meh. Kristien agreed, this might have been the worst taco we’ve ever eaten, and she loves lamb. Worst lamb dish that I’ve ever had, hands down.
We are churros addicts and were excited at the prospect of some bad boys that came with chocolate sauce. We were especially excited because only the day before we met our friends Darryl, Melissa, Renato, and Alicia at Barcelona in Norwalk and shared amazing churros. They came out looking very good, but they were raw in the middle. We were just going to leave and not bother, but we really wanted churros, so we asked for another batch. The churros came out but, once again, they were raw on the inside. We paid and left.
There are so many FANTASTIC taco places in Stamford, Norwalk, and all over Fairfield County, but unfortunately, Bartaco isn’t one of them. It’s not even close. If you care more about the vibe and the cool factor, then you should come to Bartaco. But, if you want the authentic Mexican experience and want to pay helluva less try these options that are nearby:http://bartaco.com