Brunch @ Bartaco in Port Chester

Amy Kundrat

Thanks to Bartaco, your brunch options just got a whole lot more interesting

. Lazy weekends, newsprint-stained hands, Bloody Marys and now tacos are firmly in the domain of this weekend morning ritual. 

The popular Port Chester taco joint owned by the Barcelona Group, has recently unleashed a brunch menu for Saturdays and Sundays that is a fitting extension of

the brand’s signature breezy Mexican beach food

. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this scene,

think Mexican street food influenced by the tides

(and an enviable location on the Byram River) with a backdrop fit for a Hampton's weekend of beach-going and people watching minus the traffic on the LIE.

Bartaco’s new executive chef Dudley Nieto is the man behind the

simple yet satisfying five-item brunch menu and its three signature cocktails

but owner Sasa Mahr-Batuz is its inspiration. “The restaurant really lends itself to daytime dining, so it was only a 

matter of time before we opened our doors for brunch, “ says Mahr-Batuz. “It has always been one of my favorite meals of the day.”

Brunch portions are similarly scaled to the shared plates and trays you find during lunch and dinner at Bartaco. Small and inexpensive, they range from $3 to $7 each, so you could easily order the entire menu to share among a small group with sides and tacos to supplement. 

Starting with libations,

the Bloody Maria, Rosemary Bellini and a Michelada are reminiscent of traditional brunch cocktails with a decidedly Mexican spin

. The Bloody Maria is a combination of Herradura Tequila, housemade sangria, lime juice and pickled pepper. A Rosemary Bellini is Gruet Blanc de Noirs, pear nectar and muddled rosemary. The Michelada is a combination of Pacifico beer with lime juice and house made Sangrita with a bit of Cayenne salt. At about $8 each, these drinks are a perfect way to nurse a hangover or get started on a new one.

The first item on the brunch menu is something you can’t and won’t want to share.

The Shrimp Shot is a briny take on a Bloody Mary sans alcohol

. This amuse bouche sits in a shot glass filled with a

roasted tomato and ancho chipotle sauce, some pico de gallo

and a single diced shrimp tucked among those spicy riches. You could just add vodka and call it a day.  

But that would be no fun because you wouldn’t get to experience

the Griddled Egg with Corn and Chorizo, a deconstructed south-of-the-border take on a morning breakfast sandwich

. Order this and pair this with a Michelada and guard it with your life. Although I encourage sharing, this dish may test your generosity.

The omelet, practically a required brunch dish, has its own Bartaco’s interpretation, which involves jalapeno, cilantro and seasonal vegetables such as zucchini and some green onion. A solid dish, but not as compelling as the Griddled Egg with Chorizo or the sweet surprise of Bartaco’s French Toast. 

If you’re not feeling the savory dishes, the Mexican French Toast is a sweet must.

The toast is fluffy with lightly crisped edges, and a subtly spiced syrupy finish

. That syrup, like many of their sauces throughout the regular menu, is a nicely balanced construction of flavors that I begged to know the ingredients, which are: agave wine, sugar cane, orange peel, cinnamon and anise seeds.  

The last item on the brunch menu is a good way to begin or end your meal. A palate cleanser of seasonal fruit, which consisted of

chunky slivers of melon dusted with the kick of cayenne and a bright spritz of lime

. A nice respite from the saltiness of the savory dishes and the sweetness of the Toast. This is not a throwaway dish, it’s a pleasant and calculated way to ease out of the multiple layers of flavors from any of the menu’s dishes.

In addition to the brunch menu, do venture over to the tacos and sides from the regular menu which are always available. 

A few new tacos, such as a lobster, duck and lamb barbeque

, are now available but venture further for the real reward. I'd recommend the Chopped Salad with its enviable cilantro jalapeno dressing, a spicy chicken tamale, or the grilled corn.

If you have to end on a sweet note, look no further than

the decadent chocolate tamale, which Nieto calls "a ticket to heaven."

A warm velvety chocolate interior, a combination of sweet and grainy Mexican chocolate counterbalanced with Belgian semi-sweet, is nestled beside a small scoop of vanilla ice cream meant to accompany each bite. This decadent dish is not nearly as sweet as it looks.

The new Bartaco brunch menu succeeds as a thoughtful selection of food that can help you recover from or extend the revelry of this spirited Mexican small-plate mecca. The Bartaco brand itself, a unique blend of high and low, has great potential. Small plates of Mexican-inspired comfort food, clean and simple flavors and a menu that can now take you from breakfast to late night snack. 

Bartaco is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. daily, and food is served continuously. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bartaco is located at Willett Avenue in Port Chester, NY. A second location will be opening in Stamford at 222 Summer Street this year. Twitter:


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