February 14, 2019
New restaurant brings creative coastal street food to Madison
Bartaco opened in early February at Hilldale
Hilldale Shopping Center’s newest addition, bartaco, is providing a cold weather respite in Madison with a warm beachy vibe, flavorful street food-inspired dishes and fresh-squeezed margaritas.
Madison’s bartaco, which opened in early February, is the restaurant’s first location in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Bartaco started in Port Chester, New York, in 2010 and has since expanded to Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.
Sabato Sagaria, the president of bartaco, says with all of the exciting things happening in Madison and Hilldale, they thought the city would be a great spot for bartaco.
“When you look at Hilldale specifically you start to see our guests also frequent the shops that are represented here, so it’s a natural fit for us to be there with them.”
When it comes to food, Sagaria says bartaco offers coastal street food pulling influences from South America, Southern California, Mexico and other cultural cuisines.
“The tortilla becomes the canvas and we take street food flavors from around the world and put those in the tortilla,” Sagaria says. ““Because they’re three to four bites, it’s really a great opportunity for guests to try new flavors without the fear of commitment to an entire entrée.”
When sitting down at bartaco, guests fill out a card choosing from tacos, not-tacos and rice bowls. Sagaria says this is a way to bring everyone together as the food comes out family-style.
“Everything from the order process is communal to the food coming out and being able to share and just bringing people together,” Sagaria says.
Some of the tacos include glazed pork belly, mojo pork carnitas, tuna tatako, baja fish, falafel, roasted duck and seared swordfish. When it comes to other dishes, bartaco offers rice bowls with ingredients like chicken chorizo and ahi tuna, as well as street corn fritters, tuna poke, chicken empanadas and churros with a rich chocolate sauce.
The bar side of bartaco features house-made aquas frescas, local beers and margaritas made with fresh-squeezed juices. On a daily basis, Francisco Sanchez, the bartaco beverage director, says the restaurant will go through between two to six cases of limes daily at the bar top alone. Sanchez says all of the juices in the restaurant are freshly squeezed to order when at the bar.
Sanchez says bartaco offers a seasonal drink based on what fruits are available that season. The current offering is a pomegranate caipirinha. They also have a seasonal secret off the menu taco, which is a crispy Brussels sprouts taco.
“When you walk in and they’re juicing a margarita to order rather than using any kind of mix, it’s like ‘Wow I am on vacation,’ even if it’s an hour vacation while you’re here,” Sagaria says.
Bartaco is located at 464 North Midvale Blvd. and is open daily 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., except Fridays and Saturdays when it’s open until 12 a.m.
By Maija Inveiss