Destination Crush: Bartaco, Tampa

I love tacos. Filled to the corn tortilla brim with carnitas, lettuce and sour cream, there's a world of delicious possibility when it comes to the traditional Mexican dish. This past week, mi madre and I headed to the white-washed interiors of Bartaco in Hyde Park, Tampa to satiate our guac cravings. Taco penchant aside, I was initially drawn to the nautically striped throw pillows and warm lighting of the taco eatery. Feast your eyes on these interiors 👇

Photograph taken by Jeff Herr.

Photograph taken by Jeff Herr.

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We didn't waste any time after settling in to our cozy bookcase-lined corner of Bartaco -- the first edible to grace our table was none other than a bowl of guacamole. 

To dial up the authentic feel of the restaurant, the tortilla chips were served large, round and unbroken. The undone feel of the dish's presentation lent a decidedly fresh and made-for-you vibe to the dip and chips. 

If you're a fellow-sensitive-tongue owner, perhaps ask for an avocado mashup sans jalapeño. A version that will surely be just as delicious without the surprise pop of capsaicin. 

To wash down the guacamole, we ordered up a couple of freshly-squeezed juices.

We went with the grapefruit ginger aqua fresca and the lemonade with fresh mint (left).  So satisfyingly quenching. We were trading juice sips the entire time. 

Now for the real fun. THE TACOS 😋

The ordering process at Bartaco is similar to what you'd experience at a sushi restaurant. An order form booklet is placed at every table, and you are to tick off the dishes that would delight your tummy most. Since the dishes are served family style - everything is made to share. 

We went with four tacos: the sesame ribeye, the duck, the pork pastor and the falafel. Feeling extra gluttonous that day, we also tacked on two rice bowls to the order: the pork belly and the portobello.

So positively happy about the food. Both of our faces lit up when the food arrived at our table. The handheld tacos are supported by a corn tortilla and lined with bibb lettuce, which ensure a healthy crunch in each bite. Topped with cilantro and sprinkled with tasty goodness from the the taco gods, the tacos are incredible. 

Then, came the rice bowls. Sitting atop a bed of brown rice, the bowls have a lovely homemade taste to them. Smothered in a garlicy sauce, the portobello bowl comes with roasted poblano peppers and queso fresco (yum). The pork belly bowl is just as savory with a spicy arbol chili sauce, roasted slices of red onion and yellow bell peppers.

Photograph taken by Jeff Herr.

Photograph taken by Jeff Herr.

We were so full after finishing up our plates. The meals are incredibly filling, and the service is so friendly. The Bartaco staff attire involves white jeans and a blue-and-white-checkered-button-down shirt. Hard to say that the place doesn't have style. 

Head there next time you have a hankering for tacos and fresh juice (or tequila if you're feeling sassy). The joint is inspired by the beach culture of Brazil, Uruguay and Southern California. So, you'll get an upscale street food feel deliciously mixed with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. 

What's your go-to taco order? Let me know in the comments!