West Hartford, CT, a thriving suburban hub in one of my favorite New England cities, offers a variety of restaurant choices that range from Asian to a fusion of flavors and aromas from around the world. As is the case with many cities, finding the restaurants, cafes, and bars that are popular with the locals requires some research or a leap of faith.
I happened to be on my way home from an interview in Hartford at the Hartford Denim Company (Hardenco) (story to follow) and fantastic overnight accommodations provided by the Avon Old Farms Hotel when I decided to stop for lunch in West Hartford. I decided to park in a lot in the center of town but as I searched my pockets for loose change, I realized the meters are set up to accept debit and credit cards, so I asked a young woman who was on her way to work for a meter lesson.
“Excuse me,” I said. “Can you help me? I don’t know how to pay for parking. I’m also looking for a restaurant that has a light fare. Can you suggest something close by?”
“Follow me,” she replied after I programmed the meter with two hours of parking.
We walked around the building as she led me to a hip, bustling neighborhood eatery known as “bartaco.”
Thrilled to find a casual dining atmosphere, I knew I was in for a treat and I’d fall in love with bartaco. My server stopped at my table within a few minutes after I was seated to place my drink order.
“Have you eaten at Bartaco before?” iI nodded ‘No’ and then she asked. “But first, before I tell you about our menu, can I get you something to drink?”
“No alcohol for me. I’m driving back to Pennsylvania but I’d love a glass of water,” I told my server, a cheerful young woman.
As she walked away, I had a chance to glance around the room and take in bartaco’s white-washed interior- a perfect fit for downtown West Hartford and its upscale shops. Add to the mix the framed photography that denotes a nomadic, carefree lifestyle and a center bar with plenty of additional seating. bartaco reminded me of Friday afternoon. The decor is trendy and speaks of South America and is inspired by the beach cultures of Brazil, Uruguay, and Southern California.
How so, you might ask?
After a long week of work, Bartaco beckons you to relax, sip a cocktail, share the small plates of food, and catch up on conversations with your friends and family.
The menu selections are indeed light, lively, and laced with a variety of flavors that whisper “street food” and sophisticated food truck. Some of the tastes you’ll encounter in the “chopped salad” and the “spicy cucumber salad,” are citrus and mild spices. Order those on days when you want a different spin on vegetables. During my next trip, I’ll order the tuna tatako (lettuce taco).
bartaco’s kids’ menu is reasonably priced. Some of the choices available are guacamole + chips (not spicy) $6; quesadilla, $2; corn wheels $2; and beef, chicken, and fish tacos $2. A large tray of quesadilla, guac + chips, three tacos, corn wheels, cucumbers, and fruit skewers will feed three kids for $14.
Specialty cocktails, freshly-squeezed juices, (Aguas Frescas, pineapple chicha, ginger grapefruit and pomegranate limonada) and beer out of a bottle are among the selections on the drink menu.
Click on this link to find addresses for bartaco locations in AL, CO, FL, GA, NY, NC, TN, CT, and VA.
Find my Avon Old Farms Hotel coverage here.