Where to Bartaco, a Mexican offering from the Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, which also runs eponymous steakhouses and the Barcelona Wine Bar chain. This is more promising than it sounds.
What for Absolutely succulent taco trios and the cheeriest service a customer could hope to encounter.
The scene Bartaco is tucked into a Fort Point maze of alleys and lofts, with a sign out front signaling its arrival: #bartacolife. Roll your eyes and step into a wood-beamed hollow festooned with bookshelves of eccentric doo-dads: hardcovers, skateboards, record players, and sneakers. Brick walls hold framed photos of beaches. At the center of the space is a busy bar, where bartenders squeeze citrus fruit and chatter with a hive of worker bees. Servers in blue-checked shorts dance and snap their fingers like extras on “Glee.” A hostess ushers a customer into the dining room. “I thought you were a counter-service taco stand!” the bewildered guest says. “Oh, we’re much nicer than that,” the hostess winks. A bartender named Ann-Marie sidles over to a bundled-up lady at the bar. “Ginger ale is my absolute favorite soda!” she exclaims with genuine pleasure. Were these people trained at Disney World?
What you’re eating Between the hash tags and the skateboards, it’s tempting to think that this place is trying too hard. Well, it pays off in the kitchen: These are some of Boston’s tastiest tacos. You’re encouraged to order trays of between three and five; each warm corn tortilla (or lettuce wrap) is about three bites ($2.50-$3.50). Ann-Marie prefers the roasted duck — “it changed the whole way I think about duck,” she tells me, and for good reason. It is sweet and smoky, tender shreds laced with … is it clove? Cinnamon? Crispy battered rock shrimp is greaseless and sog-proof; Baja fish is couched in a spicy, creamy bed of slaw. There’s also a tart guacamole (“The best you’ll ever have,” I am assured) and a kids’ menu with quesadillas, tacos, veggies, and fruit skewers.
Care for a drink? Cocktails are made with freshly squeezed juices, mostly based on tequila and mezcal. There are also plenty of local canned beers (Berkshire Brewing, Jack’s Abby) and non-alcoholic options, including a frothy ginger-grapefruit mixture favored by Ann-Marie. For the kids, limeade.
Overheard Gushing from staffers about the amazingness of the food; good customer service. “We’re out of roja, so we’ll take it off your bill,” a server promises a woman who orders a salsa-and-guacamole trio. “Are you on the sauce today? We have the best margaritas, if you want to indulge,” says Ann-Marie. “I’m in the mood for chicken soup,” a woman in many layers says to her pal. “It’s amazing,” she is told.
Bartaco, 25 Thomson Place, Fort Point, Boston, 617-819-8226, www.bartaco.comKara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.