Last weekend, the sun finally came out, the temperature dropped below 30 degrees which naturally made me crave tacos and an ice cold margarita.
Well, to be fair, I already had a taco date planned with Sarah and regardless the weather we decided to head out anyway. It was still a bright, beautiful, sunny Winter’s day. So she brought along her camera, I brought along and empty stomach and we met at 969 Marietta Street promptly at 11:25am.
Bartaco is one of my favorite taco restaurants in Atlanta for quite a few good reasons: excellent location in Westside (they also have one in Buckhead and Inman Park!), a spacious patio, perfect interior decor and superb tacos and margaritas. You can’t beat it when a restaurant has it all and is affordable.
We arrived just a few minutes before they had opened so we took a seat outside warming our bodies by the fireplace, occasionally peeking inside to see if they were ready for business.
Finally the hostess opened the doors and greeted us like long lost friends. Welcoming us in for a drink and a table near a window. If I lived in a coastal town I’d be taking my decorating cues from Bartaco. Their wonderful use of wicker baskets as lamp shades are a welcome nautical contrast against the white wash and blue wood paneling on the walls.
We slung off our coats and took a seat facing the patio. If we weren’t going to be able to dine out there, we at least were going to be able to soak it all in! I definitely recommend getting here early. Bartaco is a neighborhood favorite and fills up quickly. The place was packed with Atlantans by 12:30, all scrambling to get one last Mexican fiesta down their hatch before it turned into spiral ham and cranberry feasts for Christmas. As for dinner time, you’ll want to go when the blue hairs dine if you want prime seating.
If you haven’t been to Bartaco before, the waiter will explain the layout for ordering. You’re given a betting slip of paper and a pencil that you’re required to fill out for ordering. Not only does it ensure you get exactly what you order, but you place your order all at once and the food trickles out as it’s ready. It’s family style, so food will come out on one platter so it’s up to you and your lunch mates to remember what you ordered.
When the dragonfly goes up, your waiter knows you want their attention. You’ll use your dragonfly card for ordering drinks, appetizers, first courses, second courses (if you’re feeling cheeky), dessert and the bill. It’s great because it takes the guessing out for the waiter when and why you want their attention. I appreciate the efficiency.
Our dragonfly was up, so we decided to order a round of drinks and some house made salsa and possibly, dare I say, the best guacamole in Atlanta. You’ll definitely want to start with these two plates. They’re perfect for sharing up to a group of 4, so if it’s just the two of you eating, don’t fill up too much on the appetizers!
All of Bartaco’s cocktail mixers are made in house, so the margaritas and cocktails are incredibly fresh. A huge selection of fruits and herbs wait in jars to be muddled together and juiced for the drink you’ve ordered. Here’s where some fighting words may be acknowledged: they have the best margarita in Atlanta and dare I say the Southeast. It’s perfectly balanced and the house tequila is excellently combined with their homemade sour mix; it could get you in a lot of trouble with how easy it is to drink.
Even on a cool crisp day as this one was, the iced margarita still seemed to put some warmth back in my cheeks for the remainder of the day.
As Sarah and I sipped on our drinks, our tacos came out with a couple of other surprises: grilled Mexican street corn, and two more fruity cocktails, the Red Sonja and the Granada.
The tacos are almost too pretty to eat, but some of my favorites were on this platter of food so I wasn’t going to let pretty presentation stop me from eating them. From Left to Right we had: pork belly, bartaco’s secret taco, the duck, baja fish and the mahi-mahi.
Bartaco likes to include a mystery element to their menu so you’ll have to ask your waiter about the secret taco they have on offer. Their first secret taco was a Wild Boar one and it was excellent! One of my favorites. I’m not going to spoil the surprise of what taco this one is, so I’m going to let you go figure it out on your own next time you go. I will tell you it was very good and extremely light. I hope they make it a regular rotation on their menu.
My favorite taco of the bunch consistently remains the pork belly. You can’t beat a pork belly taco. My second favorite was the mahi-mahi. Two tacos I highly recommend you trying. If you’re not a fan of margaritas (I’m going to pretend you ALL are, because if not, shame on you), the Granada and the Red Sonja are excellent non-tequila replacements for the classic margarita. I particularly liked the Granada. I couldn’t believe it had alcohol in it, but the waiter assured me it did!
After polishing off the Mexican Street Corn and the remainder of our tacos, we took our drinks outside onto their patio to soak up some stray sunshine and chat about Holiday plans.
You really can’t go wrong with anything you order from bartaco, just make sure you go hungry and have a bite for me!
I’m so glad Sarah was able to bring her camera along for the lunch, she’s an incredibly talented photographer and I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of her on the blog. Check out her portfolio here and you’re going to want to book her for your picture needs in the new year!