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Bar Taco is OPEN in Port Chester

c
cubanat Dec 28, 2010 12:49 PM

Finally went for lunch. Simply put the place is awesome. Food is damn good. Decor is very cool & warm in that not cheesey nautical/beach way. Service was almost to friendly and for certain is attentive. We had all the tacos (not a value at $2.50 each or 3 for $7) but very good taste and quality. The veal cheek is deliciously fatty. The rotisserie chicken was delightful & moist studded with rosemary. the gordita's were cute, the salsa that came with it was awesome. Out of the 3 signature salsas that are on the table the verde is the best. The others are ok but nothing special. Lolita's peachy hot one is still the best fruiot salsa I've had in the area. The guac is fresh and tasty but rather skimpy. The chips freshlt fried and warm and are full round 5 or 6 inch tortillas not cut into chips like normal. No opinion on this other than we kept asking for more to use for the guac & gordita's salsa. cold cucumber salad was refreshing and really the only thing we used our chopsticks for. yes they set tables with fork, knife & chopsticks. Also instructed to fill out "order card" sort of like a dim-sum place that has no cart service. They are working out this system still as we just filled out one card with the entire tables order instead of one card per guest which some guests have been doing. Also on the table is a hard platic blue card with the dragon-fly logo that a table can stick into the card holder if one needs attention and anyone from the staff will see to your wants. Cute shtick. Overall another great addition to the area and another example of port chester's food-centric stronghold over the county's good eats. By the way: BEST Churros I have had outside of Mexico City. Served with essentially a small dish of thick hot chocolate but not the nasty sweet kind that is the trend-just a perfect side sauce. Also the ice cream was above par.

PS...custom made sangrias...called clarico. Order a bottle of wine and for an extra $10 they make it into a pitcher with fresh fruit, brandy, etc...It made for a great extended lunch.

  1. p
    Proud_2_Be_A_CH_Peep Dec 28, 2010 01:02 PM

    They didn't by chance have a lobster taco?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Proud_2_Be_A_CH_Peep
      c
      cubanat Dec 28, 2010 01:57 PM

      No lobster tacos sadly but they did have a thai shrimp one that was ok. they were tiny shrimp in a semi-dry red chile-esque rub. besdies the veal cheek taco the best one was the beef al carbone and the chicken liver with onions.

      1. re: cubanat
        p
        Proud_2_Be_A_CH_Peep Dec 28, 2010 02:56 PM

        I think the owners are German hence the chicken livers. Los Gemelos has tongue though. If the shrimp is just ok it would be nice to see some snapper or other seafood offerings, but your good review might persuade me to try BT.

    2. a
      apf Dec 29, 2010 06:35 AM

      Tongue is coming! The menu will get a bit bigger, although not huge. We wanted to start with a few items, and work on getting them right. Better to take it slow and keep the quality high.

      Thanks for the comments. We read them and try to improve. As for the chicken livers, he's half Argentine, half Hungarian, so you were close!

      3 Replies
      1. re: apf
        c
        cubanat Dec 29, 2010 01:06 PM

        Where is the gelato from? It was really that good! And don't worry for we will be back for the churros alone!

        1. re: cubanat
          a
          apf Dec 30, 2010 06:18 PM

          Longford's - a Port Chester institution.

          http://www.longfordsicecream.com/

          1. re: apf
            c
            cubanat Dec 31, 2010 09:43 AM

            Thanks apf. Must be from their new gelato line-up.

      2. m
        MRS Dec 29, 2010 01:35 PM

        We are looking forward to trying it tonight!! :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: MRS
          l
          laylag Dec 30, 2010 04:51 AM

          Did you go MRS? Going out to dinner tonight and considering Bar Taco. Would love to hear about your experience.

        2. m
          MRS Dec 30, 2010 05:07 AM

          We tried it out last night. I think it has the potential to be a very happening place. They have made the old Ebb Tide into a really cool, attractive space. We decided to sit at the bar and eat there. Our bartender/server Kobi made some solid recommendations and explained how things work. We ordered the baja fish tacos, red snapper tacos, veal cheek tacos, beef al carbon tacos, thai shrimp tacos, assorted gorditas, chicken tamale, cruncy cucumber salad, and of course, the guacamole. And, margaritas.
          When we go out, we have no issue taking our time and relaxing, but it took almost at hour for the food to start coming out. At some point, our server did check on the food, but that didnt make it materialize any faster. Sadly, once the food did start to come out, we already a bit tipsy from a few more margaritas and SO hungry, so I think we weren't able to really take our time to savor everything. We kind of scarfed the food down. I am not sure why the food took this long, as everyone around us got there food and was eating.
          That aside, I enjoyed the baja fish tacos ( although they needed to be hotter). The veal cheek is quite delicious, too. I liked the tomatillo salsa on the fish. A good combo. I liked the red snapper, too. I was definitely enjoying the gorditas ( we got an extra order) and the crunchy cucumber salad was refreshing and spicy at the same time. The chicken tamale was good, but we inhaled it too quickly. The husband liked the shrimp and beef tacos. I agree w/ cubanat that the guac was fine, but a very small portion. I enjoyed all the sauces and salsas that came w/ the food. Esp the one that came w/ the gorditas. Definitely want to try the rotisserie chicken and the liver tacos, and portobello tacos on our next trip.
          Overall, I liked it and I liked the food. I was bummed that the long wait for the food took a little bit away from our experience, but I would certainly return. We didn't have dessert b/c we were thinking of trying to hit a movie. But, then decided we were hit w/ too many margaritas and went home.

          -----
          Ebb Tide
          1 Willett Ave, Port Chester, NY 10573

          11 Replies
          1. re: MRS
            f
            foodrink Dec 30, 2010 07:42 AM

            How were the size of the tacos? They look a little small in their pictures. How were the gorditas done? Did they have a filing? I hope they bought you a drink or two for the wait. I am looking forward to giving them a try.

            1. re: foodrink
              m
              MRS Dec 30, 2010 09:59 AM

              The tacos are small, but tasty. I am not a large person and I finished a taco in 2 to 3 bites. The gorditas were fried and they came assorted- cheese, pork and i think,chicken. I had never eaten a gordita so I am not sure how they generally are prepared.
              They gave us some extra tacos and a portion of the pickled vegetables, although maybe the stuff was just plated wrong? Not sure.

              1. re: MRS
                adamclyde Dec 30, 2010 10:21 AM

                How were the fish tacos? Were they really baja style?

                Place sounds interesting. There's a dearth of inventive mexican in that part of the country... I hope it succeeds.

                1. re: MRS
                  f
                  foodrink Dec 30, 2010 10:31 AM

                  A gordita is kind of like a Mexican pita sandwich. It should be a extra thick tortilla that is cut open at one end and stuffed with stuff. It is usually cooked on a griddle in a little home made lard for a crispy exterior.

                  How were the margaritas? Do they give a good pour in a nice size glass?

                  1. re: foodrink
                    m
                    MRS Dec 30, 2010 11:28 AM

                    To respond to adamclyde and foodrink, the baja fish taco very lightly battered cod and bit of cilantro for garnish. That's it. The red snapper is a la plancha. Also garnished w/ cilantro.They were very simple and tasty. I think the tomatillo/verde salsa was best on the fish. The gorditas definitely did not look Foodrink described above. These looked griddled, but not like a sandwich. They looked like little discs, kind of reminded me of a croquette for lack of a better word to describe. Tasty!! The margaritas were good and strong, but not an unenjoyable strong. Fresh juice squeezed right in front of you. Came in a regular highball style glass not a big "margarita" glass.

                    1. re: MRS
                      adamclyde Dec 30, 2010 01:41 PM

                      that sounds about right. I've had gorditas that are quite thin... like a thick tortilla, but smaller in diameter, and others that are a good inch thick, which are really common in Mexico City. So one name, many sizes...

                      1. re: adamclyde
                        f
                        foodrink Dec 30, 2010 03:15 PM

                        I love snapper for Baja fish tacos. Cod is a little bland and a little too tender to hold up to frying and a taco.

                        1. re: foodrink
                          adamclyde Dec 30, 2010 05:17 PM

                          perhaps, but I've never had snapper in the fish tacos I've had in Baja. Not that it wouldn't be great... but not a prereq for greatness either! It's all in the light hand of the frying. Texture of the final result should be closer to tempura in crispness and lightness than heavy and oily, ala english fish & chips... then finished with the simple shredded cabbage, creamy salsa and lime/cilantro, it's one of the great foods on earth. Something I never found ever in the Northeast the 10 years I was there... now that I'm back on the West Coast... a different story. :)

                          1. re: adamclyde
                            s
                            stmfdfoodie Dec 31, 2010 07:31 AM

                            Tried Bar Taco last night with a few friends. Did not have the same service problems as MRS, although the ordering/help "system" that Cubana described is a little strange (the server described it as "raising your hand in class") and honestly really annoyed one of my friends. We ate in a booth right next to the bar and loved the atmosphere and the music (not sure if the DJ is there every night - it was loud but I imagine it was quieter in the room off the main entrance). At the recommendation of the waiter, we ordered 1 large and 1 small guac which was perfect for 5 people. All the tacos we tried were small but delicious (snapper, baja, tounge, chicken, pork, shrimp). The churros were the perfect ending. The margaritas were great - fresh and strong. Will definitely go back and can't wait for summer nights on the patio.

                            1. re: stmfdfoodie
                              m
                              MRS Dec 31, 2010 03:55 PM

                              I think our food delay was a fluke. We are going next weekend as a group to celebrate a whole bunch of birthdays together. I can't wait b/c there are so many more things that I really want to try! Didn't really get to try all the "non taco" offerings and I think they are calling my name!

                              1. re: MRS
                                m
                                mla19 Jan 7, 2011 06:21 PM

                                Just got back and had a really enjoyable meal for a place only open 3 weeks. Warm, friendly staff, happening vibe and good eats. We really liked the "small plates" type menu which allows you to try a lot. Prices are reasonably low yet the place retains an upscale/casual atmosphere. Highlights were the beef, red snapper and pork tacos, the churros with chocolate sauce and gelato and my winter caipirinha cocktail. My husband also loved his cup of coffee. As another poster said, looking forward to coming to this place in the warmer months. A good addition to the Port Chester eating scene.

            2. d
              drpg01 Jan 8, 2011 10:42 AM

              I was there a week or so in a party of four. Although I'm not crazy about the ordering system, the food was great. We tried nearly every taco, including the two snapper and baja fish, the liver and onions, the tongue, the pork with chili verde, the beef al carbon....
              We liked the corn and the slaw sides so much, we ordered them again.
              Margaritas were good, and I really liked the smoky cholula made with mezcal.
              I've been dreaming about the food since we were there, and am going back tomorrow night.
              This is the kind of restaurant that deserves support. We want them to be around for a long time.

              1. m
                MRS Jan 9, 2011 05:51 AM

                They have definitely stepped in up in the 2 weeks since we were first there. Tweaks to the original menu offerings, and some of the recipes/presentation were noted and appreciated. The veal cheek was even better, although we were thinking it tasted quite like brisket. No matter. very good. I really enjoyed it. Only issue would be that when it is very crowded, as it was last night, it can very congested in and around the bar. They have no coat check area except for the hooks in the back ( which were totally full and not usually my fave thing to do w/ my nice jacket) so were we shuffling around w/ coats and drinks trying to find a place to put ourselves and get out of the way. It was 3 deep at the bar area. A little tricky.

                1. m
                  miccheck914 Jan 13, 2011 10:51 AM

                  Seems like a great idea, hope they can succeed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: miccheck914
                    s
                    Shawn Jan 17, 2011 07:59 AM

                    We went last night and really enjoyed it. Margaritas are strong and good. We sampled a variety of dishes-- an assortment of tacos, gorditas, grilled chicken, beef stew, guacamole, a bunch of sides and probably a few other things I can't remember. Service was friendly and quite good. Our server noticed that while we had finished everything on our other plates, we did not eat much of the beef stew. He asked if there was something wrong with it and we said no, it just wasn't to our tastes. He immediately took that dish off our check-- a nice move, I thought.

                    The only thing my husband wasn't crazy about was that his wine by the glass came in the same type of short cocktail glass my margaritas came in, and it was quite a small pour. So he said that he probably wouldn't do wine by the glass again. Otherwise, a very fun meal and we will return. The place wasn't totally full at 8:30 on a Sunday night, but it was quite busy.

                  2. t
                    traceyk Jan 21, 2011 10:02 AM

                    My daughter(7) and I went for lunch this week. She thought it was the greatest. She is a skinny little thing and ate 3 taco's herself. She loved the beef, as did I. The chicken had a few pieces of the skin inside, so she didn't like that one. I tried the veal, and it was delish. We also tried the gordita's, wonderful, and I liked the arepas too. We also tried the cucumber salad and churros. What I didn't like was the price. The bites were very small and my 7 year old and I paid $40 for lunch.

                    1. jfood Jan 21, 2011 12:18 PM

                      Add me to the list of people who recommend the first of two Bar Tacos. I stopped by on the way home from the airport for a little afternoon snack and ordered a Baja Fish, a spicy Chorizo and a Veal Cheek taco. The Fish and Cheeks were excellent and I liked the chorizo, but found it a little salty for my taste. The verde and the chipotle sauces were spicy enough for me, and I will let others try the habanero.

                      I also thought the decor was very cool and did give the beach motif. I think this will be a real hot spot when the weather changes and people can hang outside, drinking one of their 34 Tequilas and having some excellent tacos.

                      www.ctbites.com

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: jfood
                        chowdom Jan 21, 2011 01:30 PM

                        As per staff the joint is jumping already. A fair number of customers are going outside and hanging under the heat lamps and near the fire pit." They also anticipate that things are going to get a little crazy (in a good way) during the Summer months, seriously they are out there in 27 degree weather.
                        We sampled the guac, bean, corn sides and liver and onion and baja fish tacos. Everything was very good including the seltzer with fresh lime juice that I was drinking. We had the churros for dessert I didn't care for them they were too greasy. With its unique ambiance and good food I recommend Bar Taco and look forward to returning.

                        1. re: chowdom
                          jfood Jan 22, 2011 05:08 AM

                          Interesting in that the staff was cleaning the pillows for the outside seating when I was there and the forecast for the evening was teens. And they were cleaning the fire pit which had tons of cigarette butts. People will do anything for a smoke I guess. For me the idea that I would need to inhale second hand smoke while eating a delightful dinner would be a major turn-off on the patio during better weather and Little J and I thought walking from Barcelona to the car behind the theatre in SONO last night was too cold..

                          1. re: jfood
                            chowdom Jan 22, 2011 07:44 AM

                            I could not tolerate the cigarette smoke either. It would be nice if they were to prohibit smoking during prime dining times.

                            1. re: chowdom
                              jfood Jan 22, 2011 10:11 AM

                              +1

                              1. re: jfood
                                m
                                MRS Jan 22, 2011 02:06 PM

                                It is my understanding, after asking some questions, that in better weather when food is served outside- no smoking will be permitted. As an establishment, they will not be allowed by health code to permit smoking when that area becomes designated seating for dining.
                                I really enjoy BarTaco and I think it has a lot to offer. My experiences there have been inconsistent. Once fair, with room for improvement after only being open 2 weeks. Once great and the menu and food had been tweaked. Once with a large group and the food was awful. Dry, sloppy looking and cold. I'd still go back again, but I think it's a place for a 4-6 people per table at most.

                                1. re: MRS
                                  jfood Jan 23, 2011 04:03 AM

                                  "when food is served outside- no smoking will be permitted" - that is awesome news, I hope so much you are correct.

                      2. i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Jan 23, 2011 05:23 AM

                        I went here last night and we would never return. I wish that we had just gone to Los Gemelos.

                        The food-- the food is fine. It's not amazing but not terrible, but considering the prices are very reasonable (one of the few saving graces) we were not as annoyed as we could have been-- our meal for 2 was only $35 before tip, which included non-alcoholic drinks, 4 tacos, 2 sides, guac & chips, and a large salad. The guacamole and chips were the best part. The tacos were bland and boring, helped marginally by the trio of salsas. The most puzzling dish was the romaine hearts salad, which was $7 for a large and included literally 2 large leaves of lettuce slathered in a very spicy dressing. Also annoying-- they charge $3.75 for a soda and then bring it out in the bottle with no glass. Like I said, we would have much preferred to be at Los Gemelos in terms of the food.

                        The atmosphere-- we were really impressed by what they've done to the interior. The main room is airy and centered around a large bar. It was lively with good music playing. Things went downhill when they led us into the side room off to the left of the entrance, which has terrible acoustics, thus amplifying the screaming of numerous large groups of families with young children (as in infants and toddlers)... which leads me to another gripe. I may be wrong, but when a restaurant has "bar" in the name, I assume that the crowd will be heavy on adults, and when we saw the huge bar, we thought our assumptions would be confirmed. However, this was not the case in the side room. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you are going out for a date night or night out with friends. If I were to ever return (which I won't) I would ask to be seated at the bar in the main room.

                        The service-- I hate ragging on servers because it's a job I know I could never do. However, our waiter was a total space cadet and I don't think he was the only one who was confused. Bus boys delivered food to the wrong tables, simple questions took long minutes to be answered... and apparently there was a computer glitch that caused them to double-charge us for every single thing (minus drinks) that we ordered. When I pointed out that they had charged us almost DOUBLE for our meal, the problem took 15 minutes to resolve, at which point we were ready to kill someone because we just wanted to leave.

                        The ridiculous ordering system-- I am saving this for last because this was the most annoying part of the meal and the #1 reason I will never return. When we were seated, the lovely hostess said that using the paper to write down your order was optional. When we put up our dragonfly card up to order (because you have to do that every single time you want something, eye roll), we began orally telling our waiter what we wanted. He said, "Oh, no, you have to write it down," and walked away. As my friend said, "Why should I have to work when I go out to dinner?" Isn't half of the waiter's job taking your order? On top of that, the dragonfly card signal is completely inane. We wanted more water-- flip the card up. We needed a knife-- flip the card up. Please bring us the bill so we can get out of this place-- flip the card up. You charged us $60 for a $30 meal-- flip the card up. You charged us $60 for a $30 meal and 15 minutes later we are still sitting here-- flip the card up. I don't know whose idea this was but it is completely ridiculous.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
                          jfood Jan 23, 2011 10:18 AM

                          IEALOIC

                          Wow...thanks for the heads up on the room to the left. Since I was a single and the only one in the entire restaurant the service was great and the attention to detail was spot on. I guess they need a few weeks to get some major kinks under control from your report. They were conducting interviews in the room on the left at the time.

                          If you could let us know which foods were bland so we have a point of reference. As I posted, the chirozo was salty but the cheeks and baja fish were delicious. Just want to have a point of reference for the next visit.

                          BTW - Is Los Gemelos really good and what would you recommend?

                          TIA

                          1. re: jfood
                            i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Jan 23, 2011 10:57 AM

                            I really hope that my experience was a fluke and that others will enjoy this place, but I'm only forgiving to a point. I thought that the snapper and shrimp tacos and grilled zucchini were uninteresting. The fish was cooked well but I just got no satisfaction whatsoever from eating it. From what you and others are saying on this board I should have gone with the baja fish taco. I should have mentioned that my friend did enjoy the chicken tacos quite a bit, but I didn't taste them. Again, I wasn't heartbroken over the food because it's very reasonably priced.

                            I shouldn't compare Bar Taco to Los Gemelos. They are totally different and not aiming for the same crowd. Bar Taco is gorgeous inside and I imagine if we had sat at the bar with a few drinks and a couple of small plates we would have left much less annoyed. Los Gemelos is a very, very casual place, with extremely uncomfortable seats and slow service, but they make their own tortillas right there and I've enjoyed various tacos, enchiladas w/mole, guacamole, horchata... but you definitely do not go there for atmosphere.

                            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
                              jfood Jan 23, 2011 11:38 AM

                              Thanks I. I am just learning what Mexican is so I need lots of data points. Will have to give LG a try.

                              BTW - Love the avatar.

                              1. re: jfood
                                l
                                LorenV Feb 22, 2011 04:24 AM

                                Wife and I hit BT Friday at 330PM-ish and the place was already packed. Agree it's an awesome and welcome place in that fine, fine cultural area of diverse food selections that has become PC.

                                Now you need to hit LG...if not for the pork stomach and/or veal brains alone. I wouldn't compare the two places though. Totally different target clieteles in my opinion. But equally impressive food offerings.

                                BTW, Bar Taco is a big win for their Habanero salsa alone. OMFG I could swim in that delicious nectar.

                            2. re: jfood
                              s
                              Shawn Jan 23, 2011 01:32 PM

                              We ate in the room to the left when we were there. Actually, we thought it preferable, at least that night, to the main room. The main room was buzzing at the bar and there was loud live music as well. We were offered a choice of rooms and chose the side room so we could hear ourselves talk. All adults in there that night. It was fine.

                          2. chowdom Jan 23, 2011 02:55 PM

                            We also sat in the room on the side because the band was in the bar area. We arrived at about 4:30 on a Sunday. The side room was empty at that time the bar area was quiet as well aside from the music. Incidentally by the time we getting ready to leave a large party with lots of kids was seated at what looked like a low communal table in the bar area and a party with two small children one an infant ( both crying) was seated across from us. I was thinking to myself that we nailed the ideal dinning time. I think all bets will be off during the Summer months however. I have nothing against children but given the acoustics in this restaruant I don't want to be there when many of them are around. It was also strange to see so many little ones in a place with votive candles and live music, just weird!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: chowdom
                              m
                              MRS Jan 23, 2011 03:36 PM

                              We have a rule to only go out after 8 pm in Westchester to avoid people's children- even though we have a 2.5 yr old. If we are not with our own, we don't want to endure anyone else's...
                              Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.

                              1. re: MRS
                                chowdom Jan 23, 2011 05:04 PM

                                :-)

                              2. re: chowdom
                                i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Jan 24, 2011 11:51 AM

                                Exactly what you said. I have nothing against kids. I have 70 adorable, brilliant students... who I do not want to be reminded of on my night out! We found it so bizarre that there were so many (very young!) kids there given the atmosphere and acoustics, as you said, and the menu, which doesn't seem very kid-friendly.

                              3. chowdom Jan 24, 2011 12:35 PM

                                re: apf
                                Rarely have I received such a warm welcome from owners/managers of a new restaurant. Our server offered us the option to order with him or fill out the cards. Actually I think he said if the butterfly was up that would indicate we were ready to order. Either way the service was great.

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