By Victoria Scott
Come for the food, stay for the atmosphere. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself after finally venturing to 12 South’s hotspot, bartaco. Only open since October, the restaurant has already made a name for itself with its fresh drinks and tasty food. Though it has multiple locations across the South and Northeast, our very own Nashville location somehow feels one of a kind.
Now that we have finally welcomed the warmer weather, the restaurant has opened its massive garage-style doors in celebration. You can take advantage of the lounge seating under the warm spring sun or simply enjoy the occasional breeze from the indoor tables.
Once you’ve soaked in the ambience — think “island style,” with bowls of citrus amongst wicker basket light fixtures and blue and white striped seating — you’ll place your order by filling out a slip of paper. Can’t choose between all of the delectable options? The chef’s selection trays offer a spread of tacos and sides (including their outstanding guacamole) that are sure to exceed your expectations.
While you wait for your food, don’t miss a chance to sip on a refreshing mojito, sashito, or any of the many tropical options from their extensive drink list.
Though their tacos are on the smaller side, the flavor certainly makes up for the size. The sesame ribeye is mouthwatering, and the chicken taco is anything but basic. But the side dishes deserve attention too! The grilled corn isn’t exactly the most flattering food to eat, but with the cayenne pepper and cotija cheese topping, it’s worth the effort of gnawing at the cob. While I haven’t personally tried the ceviche or the spicy cucumber salad, they’ve gotten two very enthusiastic thumbs up from my fellow diners. And you absolutely have to try their three house hot sauces, ranging from the mild “roja” to the more powerful “habanero,” which delivers quite a kick.Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. If you decide to redirect your sweet tooth to Sprinkles cupcakes across the street, I’d understand, but you really shouldn’t miss the chance to try bartaco’s key lime pie in a jar or their gelato. Both options promise a wonderful finale to an excellent meal.
The price point does, without question, reflect the hip, somewhat expensive nature of 12 South eateries, but you aren’t just there for the food. Leaning against cozy striped pillows, feeling a light breeze and sipping your margarita as you wait for your second order of plantains to arrive, you’ll see that bartaco delivers a temporary tropical escape from your busy day.