First Look: Bartaco, Westside

Barcelona Wine Bar spinoff, Bartaco, opened last month on Atlanta’s Westside. With four locations in New York and Connecticut, and at least two more planned for metro Atlanta, the Mexican-style concept features “upscale street food” and a good time atmosphere.

The look: Situated in the Dixie Packing building, the modest brick building painted with the Bartaco dragonfly logo belies a surprising indoor/outdoor space that conjures a beach resort. A rectangular bar anchors the main dining area, surrounded by cozy booths and communal tables. Beyond garage doors, a walled courtyard is surrounded by lush landscaping.

The scene: One recent afternoon, the buzzing lunchtime crowd included at least one publicist and several other restaurant personalities. Seated at a booth, renowned Southern chef/restaurateur, Sean Brock, was working on a plate of tacos, and maybe making mental notes for the casual Mexican-inspired spot he’s planning to open in Charleston.

The food: True to its name, Bartaco offerings center on tacos and drinks, with a sushi bar-like menu that allows you check off your choices. Tacos ($2.50/$3.50) range from Baja or Veracruz-style fish to falafel, sesame ribeye and duck. Order a tray ($24 small/$36 large) and the chef selects tacos, tamales and sides for you, served with guacamole and rojo, verde and habanero salsa. Other choices include rice bowls ($7) with a variety of proteins, small plates such as gazpacho ($5) and ceviche ($6), and rotisserie chicken ($8 half/$14 whole).

The drinks: The Bartaco Margarita ($9.50), with Maestro Dobel Reposado tequila, Luxardo triple sec, agave syrup and lime, tops a cocktail list that features potent elixirs such as the Old Thymer ($10.50), with Four Roses bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, thyme, lemon and orange. The DIY Clarico ($6 plus wine) is a carafe of fresh cut fruit with sugar, ice and your choice of a bottle of wine.

The extras: There’s a quick service window near the front entrance, where you can pick up to-go orders and special party packs. Bottles of the house salsa are $7.50 each or three for $20.

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