I'm sure you've seen it all over Instagram – that huge baking dish filled with tons of colorful tacos with a side of guac. You've probably wondered to yourself: "Where is this magical place?!" Well, my friends, I've got the answer – it's Bartaco. 

With locations all over the East Coast – from Connecticut to Florida – and with endless food options, including vegan and gluten-free ones, Bartaco is the perfect place for everyone. And I've had the privilege of going to Bartaco in Reston, Virginia to get the inside-scoop on everything that makes this place much more than just a taco restaurant. 

Walking In

coffee, tea, cake, beer
Brittany Arnett

At first glance, Bartaco is a restaurant among others. But once you walk in, you are immediately transported to another place – that place being warm, coastal, and inviting. The decor is laid back, and during night hours, the restaurant is incredibly lively (must be the margaritas...). 


beer, wine, tea, coffee
Brittany Arnett

The best part of going to Bartaco (besides eating, of course) is the menu mark-up. Every table contains small cards that each person gets to write on, checking off each item that they want. Everything is relatively small and cheap, so the menu is designed for you to order a lot to taste a bit of everything. 

The Appetizers

vegetable, guacamole, salsa, bread
Brittany Arnett

Now for the real action: the food. Each item comes out as soon as it's ready, meaning that the food comes super fast and fresh. I started off with their delicious guacamole, which  was accompanied with giant round tortilla chips.

I also got their Elote corn, otherwise known as Mexican Street Corn, which was by far the BEST I've ever tasted in my foodie days. The corn is char-grilled and topped with chipotle mayo, cojita cheese, and a little bit of cayenne pepper. It's fantastic. Get this – you won't be sorry.

The Tacos

meat, chicken, salad, tomato, lettuce, vegetable, tacos
Brittany Arnett

Soon after my delicious appetizers, I was brought a giant baking tray (yes, a baking tray) filled with a variety of tacos. Each taco was bursting with flavor, and each had a unique flair – with ingredients coming from Asian, Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish, and Mexican cultures. 

What tacos did I get exactly? We first started off with Ahi Tuna tacos wrapped in a lettuce leaf, but also enjoyed the Baja Fish taco (battered cod with slaw), cauliflower taco with romesco sauce, falafel taco with tzatziki, shrimp "banh-mi" taco, and sesame ribeye taco. 

tomato, salsa, chili, vegetable, bread, meat, beef, tacos
Brittany Arnett

What's really cool about Bartaco is every couple of months they release a "#bartacosecret taco," that's not on the menu. This month's taco was ancho coffee-rubbed short rib with pickled fennel – basically a flavor bomb in your mouth. If you stop by a Bartaco location, definitely don't be shy to ask your server about the #bartacosecret that month.

meat, vegetable, pork, tacos
Brittany Arnett

Mid-way through chowing down on delicious tacos, the head chef (@the_taco_aficionado) came out to ask me how the food was. He went on to tell me that at Bartaco, all of the ingredients are fresh and made in-house – even the lime juice they freshly squeeze daily. Not to mention that all of their tacos are gluten-free and can easily be made vegan. He even brought out his personal favorite taco – the pork belly taco with spicy chili sauce.

The Desserts

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Brittany Arnett

Now, what's a meal without dessert? Luckily the chef also brought out all of the best desserts – hot churros dipped in chocolate sauce, spiced chocolate pudding with an oat topping, and key lime pie in a jar. Each dessert was heavenly – so heavenly I finished them all. No #ragrets.

The Takeaway 

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Brittany Arnett

What did I learn from this awesome experience at Bartaco? That it might very well be one of the most versatile Mexican restaurants out there. As I happily chowed down on some fantastic food, I was even more inspired by the high morale among the chefs, managers, and servers, who were extremely attentive and helpful the entire time. Special shout-out to my server Rachael for being awesome!

The best parts of Bartaco? Their affordability, unique flavors, allergy-friendly ingredients, and awesome staff. The worst part? That it's 30 minutes away from me. I'll be patiently waiting for a location to open up in DC or Long Island

sauce, chicken, beef, pork, salad, vegetable, meat, lettuce
Brittany Arnett

Special thanks to Bartaco Reston for the delicious complimentary meal. These reviews are entirely honest and my own.