bartaco: Gluten-Free Taco Heaven
Very late in life, I have discovered my love of tacos. I blame a fear of the Taco Bell Chihuahua, and a loyalty to all things chicken fingers and french fries. (Seriously, that’s all I would eat at restaurants as a kid). But this year I have finally converted to both Chipotle, and just as life-changing, bartaco.
For those meandering on the outskirts of New York City (or those looking to slip away from the bustle), bartaco is an amazing discovery. Their metropolitan-area locations currently include Port Chester in Westchester County, Stamford, Westport, and East Hartford in Fairfield County.
The menu is almost entirely gluten-free. The few items with gluten are marked with asterisks, but everything else is safe. Meaning, you can eat all the tacos that your heart desires! There are 13 types, so you’ll be back to sample each one. The varieties include spicy chorizo to fried oyster, sesame ribeye to duck, and falafel and cauliflower for the vegetarians. The soft-corn tacos aren’t huge, but they are filling.
I’ve had the curry shrimp, fried oyster, and cauliflower and I am a bartaco convert from the first bite. But what’s won me over even more than the tacos is their grilled corn on the cob, smothered in cayenne pepper, lime juice, and a sprinkling of melted cotija cheese. And if you’re not about tacos, several of the fillings are available as part of a rice bowl.
But wait. Clearly any Mexican food excursion is incomplete without avocados in some form. Which is why, upon getting to bartaco, you must order their house-made chips and creamy guacamole.
For the uninitiated, the best bet is to take a friend and order a large tray, which comes with nine tacos, two tamales (pork and black bean), the aforementioned godly guac and chips, and a choice of sides. A pitcher of bartaco’s margaritas is a must. These margaritas aren’t from some supermarket mix. They’re the real deal and they pack a punch.
To finish up, unfortunately, the only current desert choices for us celiacs are spiced chocolate pudding and fresh pineapple with lime. But, in all honesty, your impending food coma will probably keep you from desert.
I’ve only been to the Port Chester and Stamford locations. The Port Chester one is the first bartaco, and it’s always bustling, nestled up against the placid Byram River. It feels like a party, with house-music pumping in the background, and people laughing around the rustic wooden bar. In the warmer months, you can sit outside on their deck overlooking the water. And if it’s not so warm, they have heaters that look like towers of fire. Inside, there whitewashed plank walls and low-to-the-ground wooden tables and benches, for a surfer-meets-Mexico feel.
How much do I love bartaco? I have the menu saved in my phone’s photos for you know, just in case. If you want some fresh tacos, a break from city life, and excellent margaritas, this is the place.
Post and Photos by Gabriele Boland.