Slowly, but surely I am making my way to restaurants around the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area. Because of the pandemic I have not been eating out as often as I had before and therefore these posts are coming slower than others. Despite that I still am looking at new places to try and write reviews to help other gluten-free folks eat out with less anxiety.
Bartaco is a casual eatery with a location in Chapel Hill. There are a handful of locations throughout the U.S. as well, based on their website. I have eaten Bartaco twice recently, the first time as takeout and the second utilizing patio dining. Thankfully in North Carolina the weather is warmer and outdoor dining is still an option here. From what I experienced eating at the restaurant I thought it was a cute restaurant. The decor was minimal, and it all just felt fresh and fun. Part of the patio was covered and another part was not, but had a cute pergola like fixture. The tables themselves were spread apart quite far and I felt safe dining out here. I never went inside the restaurant, but if I ever get the chance to I will let you know.
As you may have deduced from the name, Bartaco sells tacos. They specialize in casual street food. The first time I got Bartaco I used their website to check on the allergens. One of the reasons I do not personally like takeout as much is because I cannot ask all the questions I like to as easily. Thankfully Bartaco’s website is really well done and has all the allergens listed for each menu item. Many of the menu items are gluten-free, and I could not find a single friend item that has gluten. This was important for the chips, just in case they made them in house. Had the website not had this information I could have called and asked, but it was nice that I did not have to put that much effort into it.
Like I mentioned, the first time I had Bartaco was takeout with friends. They had just gotten a new pup and couldn’t get away for too long. One of the cool things Bartaco has done to make the takeout experience better is offering taco packs. The tacos are not constructed so that the tortilla does not get too soggy while you drive home. I think its great to see restaurants being innovative and making the best of the current situation. That night I got the mojo pork carnitas 4 taco pack. My friends and I also shared chips and guacamole. One thing that I thought was interesting was their tortilla chips were large round chips, like a tostada. I am just used to restaurants cutting their chips into smaller sizes, but it was alright because they tasted great. I was impressed with the food and happy we decided to get Bartaco. I had not eaten tacos out since leaving Austin and it was a great decision.
A couple of weeks later I was really wanting to get out of the house and do anything. So I asked a friend if she wanted to meet up and we decided after much consideration to get Bartaco. They were one of the few places in Chapel Hill that had a covered portion of their patio and the weather had not been great during this time. Going to the restaurant I saw that they are being innovative in many ways. To order they have a QR code on each table and you order on your phone. If you have questions they do have a system in place to call over an employee to get your questions answered. When you dine in they sell single tacos so you can pick and choose what you want. I started with a margarita because it seems wrong to eat tacos without margaritas. It was a very good margarita and it seemed like a house-made mix which was nice. My friend and I got an assortment of items to share. We tried the guacamole, and the spicy cucumber salad, both were wonderful. Honestly the spicy cucumbers were not as spicy as I imagined they would be. Since I could mix and match tacos I tried the falafel taco and then went with the mojo taco again. The falafel taco was a bit difficult to eat as the falafel was round and just in a tortilla. It was also a bit spicier than I expected, but it was a really great taco. I enjoyed the other taco just as much as I had the first time. After eating I felt great and happy I got out and got to hang out with a friend from school.
Bartaco is a fun casual restaurant with many gluten-free options. They have options for individuals with other dietary restrictions as well. Although their restaurant is open for dine-in, they utilize technology to limit interaction with guests. At some places this would be frustrating for me as I could not ask questions. But their website has all allergens listed for each menu item and you can still talk to staff by putting a call card on your table. Both times I have had Bartaco I have been impressed. I enjoy the unique menu items and imagine I will frequent here in the future.