If you keep up with my blog you may have caught on by now that tacos are one of my favorite foods and I eat them quite often. So far, I have blogged about breakfast tacos and authentic street style tacos, but alas there are still some untapped taco types that I love and eat often. One of these is fancy, completely inauthentic tacos. When I say inauthentic I don’t necessarily mean this in a negative way. Sometimes, I am in the mood for a greasy taco from my hometown Mexican restaurant, but other times I want something that is not traditional at all and is only called a taco because there is something placed in a tortilla.
When I am craving this less authentic style of Mexican food, Bartaco is my go to. I live extremely close to Bartaco and every week my roommates and I are tempted to drive down the street and pop in for some tacos and margs. I remember going here for the first time when I was in Nashville before my freshman year and thinking it was a bit too fancy especially when the salsa was served with tostadas rather than chips. Of course, the food was delicious, but after this initial time I didn’t go back until last year (my junior year). I went one random night late after an event and the vibes were just right. Their was fun music, it wasn’t busy at all, and who doesn’t love late night tacos? You know when the vibe is just perfect one time when you visit a restaurant and it makes you want to go back and recreate it over and over again? This was one of the instances and I can honestly say vibes have been just as great every time I have gone since. Despite being a chain, Bartaco is always fresh, consistent, and has great vibes. It has become one of my favorite dinner spots and is a tried and true.
At Bartaco you have to get the tacos. DUH! They have a handful of other things on the menu like rice bowls and their menu section called “not tacos” that includes chips, dips, salads, plantains, soup, and a number of other things. Whenever I go, I normally get the chips and guac to split with the table. Their guac is amazing and one of the best I’ve ever had. However, be warned that serving sizes are small and those goes for everything on the menu including the guac. I have yet to try it, but the plantains have received lots of hype and is next on my list to try.
Back to the star of the show – the tacos. Bartaco offers a wide range of vegetarian options which is part of the reason I am always down to go. Not only do they have multiple veg options, they are clearly not an afterthought because the flavors are intricate and delicious. I have gotten the cauliflower taco which is roasted and crispy then tossed in a nutty romesco sauce before being put in the corn tortilla and topping with onions and cilantro. This one is delicious and was a go-to for a while, but my favorite one is definitely the falafel taco. Like I said earlier, this is not a traditional taco place. My favorite falafel is one that is extra crispy, but sometimes this sacrifices the texture of the inside and it becomes dried out. This is not the case at Bartaco and as crazy as it sounds, it is one of my favorite falafels. The falafel is placed on the tortilla with tzatziki and sriracha. This is a mediterranean inspired taco, but is amazing and I always order at least one when I visit. There is also a mushroom taco, but I tread very carefully with mushrooms after a scarring experience I will maybe one day tell you about so I have not tried there’s yet, but would assume that just as much thought and flavor is put into my favorites, is put into the mushroom taco.
I have gone with different people over the years and everyone always orders something different and always has good things to say. They have simple things like chicken and chorizo tacos, but also branch out into more creative items like the tuna, duck, and oyster tacos. All tacos have the choice of coming on a 4 inch corn tortilla or a lettuce bib shell and are topped with cilantro. They very carefully make sure to take care of allergies and prevent any cross contamination.
Bartaco has a very strong coastal beach vibe inside from the wicker chandeliers, indoor/outdoor seating, and patio furniture look alike seating. As someone who grew up beside the beach, this is a very homey feeling to me and creates a very welcoming environment. It is very casual because of this, but also since the food is elevated you can totally dress up here and nobody would think twice about it.
The music is always pumping at Bartaco and sometimes during dinner it feels like a party inside because they are playing throwback hits like party in the USA…or maybe thats just the margarita speaking. On a nice day, their patio is open and the garage doors that line the front of the building open up to create a completely open feeling to the restaurant that is the perfect vibe on a warm day or night.
At Bartaco, a hostess seats you and then a waiter comes over and explains the whole process. There is a QR code on the table that takes you to their online ordering system where you put your card in and it is held till you are ready to leave. This means you can order continually through your meal using the QR code and decide when you are done. Usually I start with a couple things and add on an extra taco or two before checking out. If you ever need a waiter there is a little card you place up so that they know to come by and check on you. They are always incredibly quick and make sure to check that everything is perfect. Multiple times, they have gone above and beyond to make things right even if you just waited a couple minutes longer than the other people at your table.
Here is my one and only qualm with bartaco. They do not take reservations. Alot of restaurants I frequent don’t take reservations, but at a place like this it is kind of crazy that they don’t. Monday-Wednesday anytime of the day or at non-peak times other days you should be able to get a table with no problem, but Thursday night (if it is nice out) through the end of the weekend, you can expect insane wait times. I have gone on a Thursday once when it was rainy and cold and only waited thirty minutes and then gone another Thursday a few weeks later when the weather was perfect and had to wait two hours. They do have an online waitlist you can join, but you have to checkin with the host within thirty minutes and even then you are still at the mercy of how long the wait is. It is such a tragic flaw for an otherwise amazing restaurant, but plan ahead and you will eventually get your amazing tacos.
💋Me: falafel taco
💋Brooklyn: Baja Fish taco
💋Eden: Spicy Chicken Verde taco
💋Nats: Glazed Pork Belly taco
*new location recently opened in East Nashville*
Pro tip: Check out the secret taco at the time, fill out the survey you are sent after your meal for a free taco token to use at your next visit!