Inspired during a jog along the beaches of Brazil, restaurateur Sasa Mahr-Batuz, of the popular Barcelona Restaurants throughout Connecticut, came up with the concept of "bartaco." Defined simply by good food, great drinks, and an aura of fun, Sasa envisioned a light and airy informal space with style and sensibility -- one that could easily be located on a white sandy beach alongside the blue water and sea air.

In December of 2010, amidst an early snow fall and bone chilling temperatures, Mahr-Batuz and partner Andy Pforzheimer opened the first bartaco in the emerging city of Port Chester, N.Y.

More Information

Fact box

"We knew we had the formula right when customers were sipping margaritas and sitting on our patio overlooking an icy bay in the middle of January," Mahr-Batuz said.

Getting it right has now led to the opening of bartaco in Stamford, C.T.

This bartaco doesn't have the waterside location like at its first incarnation, but the newest bartaco is just as exciting in a downtown city way. Located on what is known as Stamford's "Little Summer Street," in the heart of downtown, bartaco Stamford is in good company, with big brother Barcelona right next door.

The minimalistic decor is light and breezy, with the air of a contemporary beach resort. Crisp clean colors of blue and white are accented by wood paneling and furnishings, hanging basket-weave light fixtures, and oscillating ceiling fans.

Staying true to the concept, Mexican street food that is fast, affordable and, above all, mouthwatering, the menu focuses on land and sea taco creations, and runs the gamut from Baja fish, red snapper a la plancha, and lobster, to pork al pastor, spicy chorizo, and beef al carbon. More untraditional tacos include tripe, duck, and lamb barbacoa. Herbivores can enjoy the portobello mushroom taco with queso fresco. bartaco dresses their tacos with house made sauces, relishes, fresh vegetables and lots of flavor. Side dishes include grilled corn with lime, cayenne, and cotija cheese, chipotle slaw, pickled carrots, onions and jalapenos, and a refreshing crispy cucumber salad.

Going beyond tacos, and taken straight from those street vendors in Mexico, are pork and chicken tamales, assorted gorditas (stuffed corn cake), and cheese arepas. Salads, ceviche, rice bowls with choice of protein, and spice rubbed rotisserie chicken round out the menu.

The full menu is available for take-out orders and catering, and bartaco's signature sauces and spices are available for purchase.

Drinks are the real deal at bartaco -- starting with the Mexican Coca-Cola served in the bottle and hand-pressed sodas. State of the art juicers at the bar ensures freshly-squeezed juice in all of the cocktails. There are more than 25 tequilas to choose from and a creative cocktail menu that includes specialty martinis, imported beer, and exceptional wine, as well as all the usual suspects such as margaritas, mojitos and caipirinhas.

An undeniable energy fills the space. A state-of-the-art sound system pumps music into four independent music zones. DJ spun music contributes to the party atmosphere that takes place at bartaco every day of the week.

Bartaco opened Sept. 12, 222 Summer Street, Stamford. More information can be found at www.bartaco.com.