Escape to bartaco

bartaco Tampa

The seemingly unending lashing rains let up momentarily this past weekend and the man and I made a dash for it.

Over-sized umbrellas in tow, we longed for sustenance and good company. Luckily we had a couple friends who were up for exactly the same thing.

Though we hved favorite spots aplenty to choose from, we decided to go for something new and ventured down cozy Hyde Park Village to the newly opened (and hoppin’) bartaco. The new California-style taco restaurant has been stirring up excitement for months, ever since they announced the lease on the Lululemon-adjacent space that had laid empty for years (except for the seasonal use to hold Christmas trees each December).

Having only recently truly discovered my love of tacos, I’ve had this place marked on my “must-try” list and jumped at the chance.

Now, between the recent deluge and current construction project (they’re giving many storefronts a facelift to welcome an array of exciting new shops), we didn’t really snap any photos outside.

I had no such reasons to prevent me from taking some snaps inside each of our stops!

It came as no surprise that bartaco was bumpin’ with a line of hungry, waiting diners out the door when we arrived. Since we didn’t know about the call-ahead-seating (good to know!), we popped our names and cell number on the wait-list (they text you when your table is ready so you can wander around nearby) and slipped onto two vacant bar stools that we spotted on our way over, at the Wine Exchange just next-door from bartaco.

Refreshments were in order to celebrate our momentary freedom from the rain, so we ordered up a couple of tasty cold-ones.

His - Hers Drinks - A Dash of Sparkle

A colorful twist on a Pineapple martini for me and a rich dark beer for him.

Pineapple Martini - A Dash of Sparkle

I could barely stop marveling at how pretty my drink was to actually drink it! (I pulled it together in the end – no worries.)

By the time we’d tossed back the last drops of our drinks, my cell phone buzzed to let us know our table was ready.

We squeezed in the front door, still packed with ravenous people who were clearly nervous it might start to pour again outside, and were showed to our small square table (for four). Our server was a bubbly little thing, who quickly ran through “how it all works” for us.

bartaco Ordering - A Dash of Sparkle

Basically, it’s a taco place that serves tapas-sized dishes, but in the fashion of a sushi joint. Did you get that?

Let’s start from the beginning. There’s a little wooden crate in the middle of the table packed with hot sauces and order cards.

Menu at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

You fill out which items you want to order (for the whole table) and then pop the card in the metal stand that sticks up in the center.

Ordering bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

Ready to order at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

A server sees that and hurries over to pick it up. Your food arrives as it’s ready (hopefully) by a different server. You just repeat as you see fit or until you’re stuffed to capacity!

Need something between orders? There’s a blue “service card” that will have a server over to your table in snap.

Service Card bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

N and I thoughtfully pondered our choices for a few minutes and then ordered up a load of tacos (of course), while our friends ordered a half of a baby chicken (really) and one of the rice bowls. Our server recommended we order at least three tacos each, because each one is only 2-3 bites. We listened.

Reviewing Menu at Bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

bartaco food - A Dash of Sparkle

Between just the two of us, we sampled almost every different flavor of taco in two rounds of orders. Our friends opted to take the… more conservative route.

Tacos at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

Eating at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

Happy Face at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

Of course, I had to sample the white sangria… twice. Just to make sure it was drinkable.

Sangria at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

N opted for the more traditional selection and was thrilled when this packaged delivery showed up…

Beer at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle(^They give you a koozie with your beer!)

And what taco dinner would be complete without some chocolate and churros!

churros at bartaco - A Dash of Sparkle

Honestly, these could have easily been my favorite part. Crunchy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside with a rich chocolate sauce that was just the right level of sweet.

The food was good, but we definitely got one or two items that were not what we ordered. Of course, we were halfway through before we realized it (since the tacos are so small), so it didn’t really bother us, but you’d want to check to make sure what they’re dropping off is actually YOUR food.

Service was prompt, but it was loud where we were sat, as we were planted in the center of an open area of the dining room where all the sounds seemed to just pool and become more magnified as the night went on. Might request an outdoor patio seat next time.

bartaco interior - A Dash of Sparkle

Our friends had a chuckle at the wicker baskets that served as lampshades, but I quite liked the coastal surf-side village vibe that the decor seemed to be striving for. White tables and rustic wooden touches here and there made it fairly welcoming.

My suggestion would be to suggest a table towards the edges of the room, preferably with a booth/bench. The tables towards the center are just a tad small if you’re a party larger than two.

We left satisfied though, and just in time for the rains to start, yet again.

Umbrellas up, we dashed off back to our car to hunker down for another couple days. Ahhhh, the rain. I don’t event want to taco ’bout it.





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