bartaco restaurants offer upscale street tacos, rice bowls, and Mexican flavors, with a casual, beach house-inspired vibe at two locations in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia. The newest bartaco location in the Mosaic District is perfect for a workday get together, a shopping break, or your next dinner and a movie outing.
We were invited to check out the space and sample the menu at bartaco Mosaic District to share our thoughts with the Fun in Fairfax VA audience. We've also eaten at the Reston location, which shares the same menu.
Sampling the bartaco Menu
Upscale street food with Mexican flavors are the core of the bartaco menu. Everything is made in-house, and most dishes come in tapas-size servings so you easily create a mix and match order to share. Guests order on a sushi-style menu, so you can create one order for the table or fill out individual slips.
Not Tacos and Sides
bartaco's version of chips and salsa features flat rounds of crispy tortillas served with guacamole, roja, and verde salsas. The $11 price may come as a shock to anyone used to free chips, but quality trumps quantity. The flavors of both salsas are delicious and the guacamole is perfectly fresh. You can also order the chips with one salsa for $3, and the guac as a side for $4.
Tamales with poblano mushroom are seasoned with a rich mole. Winning sides include grilled corn with cayenne and cotija cheese. The corn is normally served on the cob, but you can also order it off. The plantains are also really delicious; be sure to order some if you're a fan.
There are 13 tacos on the menu including traditional flavors like carnitas and baja fish; upscale offerings like pork belly, duck, and tuna tatako (served in a lettuce taco); and vegetarian options including cauliflower, portobello, and falafel. Tacos are either $2.50 or $3.50 each, depending on the star ingredient.
We sampled 4 of the tacos—baja fish, cauliflower, pork belly (our favorite), and carnitas—and they were all full of flavor. As you can see in the photo, these are not huge tacos covered with cabbage. The serving size is smaller than you may be used to, but the favors are complex and bright. These elevated street tacos are made to savor, with distinct seasonings highlighting each one.
Tacos can be ordered with bibb lettuce instead of tortillas, and many items can be ordered vegan. Another option is to go for a rice bowl, which offer the same selection of feature ingredients over rice for $8.50 each.
>> Discover more Favorite Taco Restaurants in Northern Virginia.
If you have any room after all that tasty food, we suggest the churros and chocolate. A lovely serving of four sugary but not overly sweet churros is served in a mug alongside a bowl of melted chocolate. The dessert is a comforting end to the meal and made our list of Chocolate Shops and Sweet Treats in Northern Virginia
You'll find a strong selection on the Kids menu including simiplified tacos, veggie and fruit options, and even a selection of non-alcoholic refrescos.
The bar is a strong suit at the Mosaic District restaurant, and it draws an after work crowd. We requested a spicy margarita and our friendly bartender prepared it with the perfect level of heat. There's a good selection of beer and wine, and an extensive tequila and mezcal collection. The restaurant also offers non-alcoholic, house-made agua frescas and ice tea. A few of the cocktails are discounted from 3:00 to 6:30 on weekdays during “High Tide,” aka Happy Hour.
The bartaco Scene
The casual space, relaxed pace, and friendly service at bartaco is a point of pride. The staff want you to feel like you're taking a break from the beach and hanging out among friends. The restaurant has a nice open feel but with distinct sections.
Nearest the street, an open patio is ready for warmer days. Once the weather cooperates, large garage doors will open to blend the outdoor with an indoor section filled with wooden tables and bright white chairs.
A large open bar is next up, with seating around the sides and a view of the open kitchen in back. Tall tables along the wall offer more bar seating. A mix of booths and tables complete the space and offer a more private spot when the bar is hopping.
The beachy decor is present, but not overstated. Game boards, books, and an old school radio and turntable—like you might find at your favorite beach house—fill a bookcase at one end of the dining area. Overhead lighting enclosed in rustic baskets adds texture and a soft light to the space. White chairs, wood surfaces, and blue striped pillows all suggest beach without being kitschy.
bartaco Locations in Northern Virginia
bartaco got it's start in Port Chester, New York, and now has restaurants in 11 states. Northern Virginia is home to two bartaco locations, the only ones in the Washington DC region, and more are planned. The two Virginia locations—at Reston Town Center and Mosaic District in Fairfax—share the same menu and a similar vibe. Since both Northern Virginia bartaco restaurants are located in outdoor, mixed use centers, they are easy to combine with shopping or a movie.
bartaco Mosaic District is located in the Merrifield area of Fairfax. The mixed entertainment space includes restaurants, shopping, the Angelika Film Center, and outdoor space for events and fun. There is ample, free parking at Mosaic District. The Dunn-Loring metro is just under a mile away, and both Route 495 and 66 are close by. bartaco Mosaic District is located at 2920 District Ave, Fairfax, Virginia.
Reston Town Center offers a similar mix of dining, shopping, a Bow Tie Cinema, and outdoor event space. Wiehle-Reston East is the nearest metro stop and it's about two miles away. A closer Reston Town Center station is scheduled to open by 2020. Garage parking at Reston Town Center is free after 5:00 pm and on weekends. At other times you have to start a paid parking session, with the first hour free. bartaco Reston is located at 12021 Town Square Street, Reston, Virginia.
We are impressed with the quality of the food and drinks at bartaco Mosaic District. We will definitely return for the tasty fare and welcoming, relaxed vibe. Learn more and follow bartaco here: web | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest.
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bartaco Mosaic District hosted our meal. As always, all opinions, text, and photos are our own.