I love tacos. Fancy tacos, $1 tacos, I’ll take them all. That’s why I was incredibly excited to be able to try Bartaco in Chapel Hill. I have heard of this restaurant in other cities, but I had no idea we had one in the Triangle. Bartaco is a street food inspired restaurant with locations in eight states, Chapel Hill and Asheville here in NC. They describe their restaurant as being inspired by the street food of Brazil, and Southern California, and the décor of the restaurant fits that to a T. The restaurant itself feels modern and beachy, and would be the perfect place to sit outside on a cool spring or summer evening.
Now on to the best part… the food. Bartaco has a pretty extensive menu of appetizers, tacos, and rice bowls. They use an interesting concept for ordering, where you have a paper menu on your table and simply write down what you’d like to order. Once you are ready you put your order in the menu holder, so your waiter can come grab it. At first I wasn’t sure about this, but it ended up working really great. Our waiter greeted us as soon as we sat down, but then you can take your time with your order, rather than having a waiter come check on you every couple minutes when you still aren’t ready. There is also a card you can put in the menu holder, should you need anything from your waiter. As soon as they see that card, they will come over and help you!
For an appetizer we decided to order the Guac + Chips ($7.75). The guacamole tasted fresh, with a nice hint of spice from the Serrano Chiles they put in it. For the main event, the tacos, I decided to try one of the tacos from the secret menu. Bartaco always has a secret taco, which you can find on their Instagram, or through the hash tag #bartacosecret. The secret taco when I was dining was a Crispy Avocado Taco, which is a tempura battered avocado, topped with Veracruz slaw and cotija cheese. I’ve never had fried avocado before, so I was a little worried it would be mushy, but this was perfectly crispy. The tempura batter made the perfect shell, and added a nice flavor as well. I also tried the Spicy Chorizo ($2.50) taco and the Shrimp Bahn Mi taco ($3.50). Both were also incredibly tasty. The chorizo was made into a little patty, which was different than I am used to, but still great nonetheless. I also enjoyed all of the flavor and crunch of the Bahn Mi taco. My boyfriend also gave the Sesame Ribeye taco ($3.50) a try, which was his favorite. Of course, even though we were full of tacos, we had to get dessert. We decided to go for the Key Lime Pie in a Jar ($6) and the Churros ($7). If you’re a key lime pie fan, I definitely suggest trying the Key Lime Pie in a Jar dessert. It was sweet and tangy, with an amazing graham crack crust. The churros were perfectly crispy on the outside, while soft and doughy on the inside and served with chocolate sauce. You can’t really ask for anything more.
Overall my dining experience at Bartaco was a great one. The food was amazing, and the service, while different than you might be used to, was great. I can’t wait to go back, and am really craving tacos while writing this! Being a Raleigh resident, I’m anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Bartaco restaurant in North Hills. But for now, make sure to head out to Chapel Hill to give this one a try.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to an event or to try a restaurant or certain products. This meal or items are usually comped, as this was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.
Melissa Guido is currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves traveling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.