Bartaco, the New York-based taco restaurant, is poised to take over South Florida.
The chain opened its third Florida location, in Aventura, yesterday. The restaurant concept, which began with one island-themed eatery in Portchester, New York, in December 2010, has 22 locations across the nation.
Sabato Sagaria, president of Bartaco, says South Florida is a good fit for the chain, which offers well-priced food and drinks in a convivial setting. "We've had some great success in Florida," Sagaria says. "The restaurant is resonating in Orlando and Tampa." He says his team chose Aventura as the first South Florida location because the city is constantly growing. "I'm getting to know Florida, and [Aventura Mall] is a fixture in the community." Bartaco is located near Aventura's new Aloft hotel and Barry's Bootcamp in the new mixed-use complex Aventura ParkSquare.
South Florida already boasts many local taco restaurants, such as Coyo and Taquiza. Sagaria admits the area sets a high bar, but he's convinced the restaurant will be successful. "The food isn't Tex-Mex; it's not Mexican. It's a unique category that draws inspiration from those cuisines."
The restaurant executive, who has worked at fine-dining establishments such as Little Nell in Aspen and Danny Meyer concepts, says the menu appeals to many palates, including vegetarian. "It's designed for us to be very accommodating to different dietary concerns." At the end of the day, however, Sagaria says Bartaco serves "food made to be enjoyed with fresh squeezed cocktails in a fun and unpretentious environment."
The menu is broken down into three main sections: tacos, not tacos, and bowls. The average check, Sagaria says, hovers around $25 per person.
Tacos include traditional selections such as Baja fish with chipotle slaw ($2.50), mojo pork carnitas ($2.50), and carne asada ($3.50), as well as nontraditional varieties such as cauliflower ($2.50), swordfish ($3.50), and roast duck with tamarind glaze ($3.50). Items in the "not tacos" section include street corn fritters ($6), gazpacho ($5), and duck quesadilla ($7).
Pair your food with a margarita made to order with Libélula joven tequila, fresh lime, agave, and Combier orange liqueur ($9.50).
The Aventura location leads the way for Bartaco to open other South Florida locations. Sagaria has his sights set on Wynwood next. "We will be expanding down into the Wynwood area later next year. We've been looking at this area for quite some time. We've been trying to understand where we fit and help contribute to the neighborhoods."
Bartaco. 2906 NE 207th St., Suite 104, Aventura; bartaco.com. Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight.