Tag Archives: Bartaco

Roundup: Outdoor Dining Tents, More


COVID, colder weather, the holidays, heated tents — when considering outdoor dining, Westporters have lots to think about.

The other day Rowena Weems asked Bartaco about their tent. News reports said that outdoor tents with no open panels are no different than being indoors.

Chris Messina — Bartaco’s regional director — replied:

“We purchased a heated tent with 3 motors. This circulates air more than 3 times the amount of inside. These motors pump heated fresh air at all times.

“In addition, the tent is not perfectly sealed, so ventilation is actually even better than the already great specifications we have.

“The small tents in New York City with no heated units or ventilation are worse than indoors. That’s not what we and most restaurants are investing in.

“We’ve spent a large amount of money to ensure our guests are safe and we can all get through this together.”

“Here are Bartaco’s specs:

  • Total tent area: 33,972 cubic feet.
  • Heating system CFH (cubic feet per hour of fresh, hot air): 288,000 cfh
  • Air changes per hour: 8.5

“In a normal insulated building with HVAC, there might be 3-6 changes per hour (on the high side).” 


Sure, Thanksgiving is around the corner. We’ve already had our first frost.

But the recent weather revived thoughts of summer. Well, at least for this one guy at Compo Beach on Friday.

(Photo/Sheri Valente)


Thanksgiving is Thursday. Which means it’s time for … Christmas lights!

Andrew Colabella spotted these — the first of the season? — on Edgewater Hillside.

The hell with the turkey. Get out there and decorate!

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)


And finally … on this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. There have been a number of turning points in American history. This was one of the most crucial.

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Winslow Park Rules; Virtual Bingo Helps Non-Profits; Keep Your Distance!; Restaurant, Retail News; More

As of yesterday, there were 89 positive cases of COVID-19 in Westport — the smallest daily increase here since the spread was first reported. Norwalk has passed Westport for the most cases in Connecticut (105).

Social distancing appears to be working. Governor Lamont emphasized that again, restricting all social and recreational gatherings to no more than 5 people.

The Parks and Recreation Department institutes these rules at Winslow Park:

  • No off leash areas. All dogs must be kept on leash.
  • Pets must be kept close to the handler.
  • The 6-foot physical distancing protocol is to be followed for people and pets. 

These protocols should be followed everywhere in town, including Longshore. Park.


Reader Stan Witkow reports that a group of Westporters has started a virtual bingo night every Thursday. The winner chooses a non-profit to get the buy-in pot. This week’s beneficiary is Westport EMS.

Over 20 people played last week, from as far as Florida and California. Most met 20 years ago at New Neighbors, Temple Israel and parents’ night at Bedford Middle School.

Even more signed up for this Thursday. Bingo!


A reader writes:

My wife and I walk on our sidewalks and roads. We’re mindful of the 6-foot distancing recommendation, so we’re distressed to encounter people who seem oblivious or apathetic. Young folks seem most careless, though some are mindful. Some older folks are careless too.

Yesterday, a young man running and breathing heavily came up from behind and nearly brushed my shoulder. That single encounter could easily have spread the virus. Unfortunately it was not our only close call.

A reminder: The virus is in the community. We all must avoid spreading it.

Be careful out there!


Nefaire, JoyRide and Haus of Pretty have teamed up on a “self-care bundle.” It  includes a facial, cycling class and blowout.

15% of proceeds go to retail employees across the 3 businesses: estheticians, therapists, cycling instructors, front desk hourly staff and hair stylists.

The bundle can be purchased at www.westportisstrong.com.


In restaurant news, Bartaco is donating 100% of all gift card sales to an employee fund.

And although Bobby Q’s moved from Westport to Norwalk, its heart is still here. They always contribute generously to town causes, like Christ & Holy Trinity Preschool. A reminder: Their smoker is open now, with curbside and delivery service.


Last month, “06880” profiled Ben Saxon. The bright, creative Staples High School 9th grader had just launched a math, robotics and coding tutoring service  for 6- to 14-year-olds.

Schools closed, but Ben hasn’t. He now offers weekly LEGO building, Kano Star Wars programming and Makeblock robotics courses, for 2-3 students each. They’re 1 hour a day, 5 days long, starting on Mondays, all via Zoom Video Conferencing. For details, click here.


The Berniker family has had a tough time during this crisis. Jen is now recovered from a bout with COVID-19. Her husband Eric is at home after an encouraging chest X-ray.

The other day, Jen Berniker interviewed her 6-year-old son Max about the ups and downs of family isolation.

That’s today’s Persona interview (below). Download the Persona mobile app to share your own stories, by interviewing family members and answering questions we’ll be sending around. Tag “6880 Dan Woog” in the interviewee field.


Finally, this has absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19. But it has everything to do with the idea that everything we do matters. Bruce Springsteen took a chance and invited a kid onstage. Look what happened next. So cool!

 

Friday Flashback #172

Back in the day, restaurants handed out matches like, well, candy mints.

Back in the day too — when alert “06880” reader/beloved sailing instructor John Kantor was smoking — he collected them.

The other day — in the back of a closet — he found his collection.

They range from old favorites (Arrow, Allen’s Clam House, Manero’s) to barely remembered spots (Beansprout, Panda Pavilion, Boss Tweed’s).

Turns out, restaurants still give away matches. John’s collection includes Dunville’s, Sakura’s, even Bartaco — places still very much alive and well.

Although, if you need all those matches to light cigarettes, you may not be for long.

(NOTE: As a special “06880” gift, John Kantor will send a high-res digital copy of this poster to anyone who wants it. Just email hijkantor@yahoo.com. What a great way to “light up” your holiday!)

Town Invited To Big Block Party

The 3 restaurants — one Japanese-inspired, another featuring tacos, the third specializing in meatballs — could not be more different.

But OKO, Bartaco and The Meatball Shop have already joined forces with valet parking. This Sunday (October 6), they’re collaborating on a family afternoon — for a great cause.

National Hall is the site of the 1st-ever Push Against Cancer Block Party. From 2 to 5 p.m. there’ s appetizers from all 3 spots, drinks courtesy of TUCK Gin, and fun activities like Cornhole and an obstacle course for kids and adults, thanks to Upper Deck Fitness.

National Hall and Upper Deck Fitness: the site of Sunday’s block party.

It all benefits the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps — the wonderful site in Ashford, Connecticut for children with life-threatening illnesses founded by Westport’s own Paul Newman.

OKO chef/owner Brian Lewis participated in this spring’s Push Against Cancer push-up contest at Staples High School — also a Hole in the Wall Gang fundraiser. He was so moved by what he learned that he offered OKO — or his other restaurant, The Cottage — for a future event.

PAC organizers Andy Berman and Sherry Jonas were happy to oblige.

Bartaco, The Meatball Shop, Upper Deck Fitness and National Hall’s landlord were equally eager to join in.

There’s a lot going on in Westport this weekend. But if you can, block out time for this great block party.

And yes, there’s plenty of parking.

(Tickets will he sold at the “door.” The cost is $40 per adult, $10 per child under age 12.)

Pic Of The Day #828

Yesterday’s rainbow, as seen from Bartaco … (Photo/Erik Ostbye)

… and the Levitt Pavilion, for the great concert by Our Native Daughters … (Photo/Claire Bangser)

… and over Cockenoe Island (Photo/Sharon Lipper)

Newest Menu Item: Valet Parking

Bartaco, OKO and the newly opened Meatball Shop are 3 very different restaurants.

But they share 2 things: popularity and parking.

The Mexican, Japanese and Italian-American spots are packed, for lunch and dinner. The National Hall and nearby parking lots are often full — especially during the day, when spots are reserved for employees of nearby offices.

There’s a parking deck across the street. But for various reasons — some people don’t like driving up the narrow ramp; crossing Wilton Road can be dicey; others may not even know it’s there — that option is underutilized.

The other day, representatives of the 3 restaurants sat together. Instantly, they agreed on a solution: valet parking.

The old Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road is now OKO restaurant. The Meatball Shop is behind is on the right; Bartaco is behind on the left. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Working together — and with the blessing of the new owner of the entire complex — they hired We Park, a Wilton-based firm.

Just as quickly, the service began. Valet parking is available 7 days a week, for lunch and dinner.

You don’t have to tell the valet what restaurant you’re going to. In fact, you don’t have to eat at all. The service is there if you just want to stroll along the boardwalk, admiring the river and lights.

A beautiful boardwalk connects OKO, The Meatball Shop and Bartaco. (Photo by Anne Hardy)

“We’re all in this together,” says Brian Lewis, owner of OKO. “We want everyone who comes here to feel our hospitality. We all have the same goals: to take care of our guests. Whatever brings people here is good for all of us.”

He says that — like the other owners — he appreciates (and dines at) the nearby restaurants.

The owners appreciate too the receptiveness of the new National Hall owners. They’ve already repainted the lines in the parking lot, and added directional signs.

Coming soon: More signs for the valet service.

Though probably not in Spanish, Japanese or Italian.

Menu Moments: What To Order At Bartaco

The other day, “06880” introduced a new feature. Registered dietician Heather Bauer will offer tips on the best, healthiest dishes to order at local restaurants.

Her first trip is to Bartaco. Yes, Heather says, it’s quite possible to join friends at the very popular Mexican place on the river, and eat quite well. Here’s how:

Starter recommendation

Small guac, and either salsa roja or salsa verde. Skip the chips; order a few sides of raw veggies (no charge for extra veggies). Save your carbs for your cocktail or entree.

Entrees for fish lovers (choose one)

●        Chopped salad. Hold the tortilla chips; add grilled swordfish (you can use shrimp as alternative to swordfish — but note: It is soaked in buttermilk).

●        2 tuna tatako tacos wrapped in Bibb lettuce.

Tuna tatakos with Bibb lettuce

●        1 tuna tatako taco wrapped in Bibb lettuce, and 1 baja taco wrapped in lettuce. (Note: The fish is fried, but the portion is small — only 150 calories — so it is fine paired with tuna tatako).

●        Tuna poke (optional change: order without fried ginger).

Entrees for Meat Lovers (choose one)

●        2 carne asada tacos wrapped in Bibb lettuce.

●        1 carne asada taco wrapped in Bibb lettuce, and 2 chicken chorizo tacos wrapped in Bibb lettuce.

●        Roasted chicken.

●        Chopped salad; hold the chips, and add roasted chicken. Ask for double chicken, if hungry.

Entrees for Vegetarians (choose one)

●      Greens and grains (a new addition to the menu). The quinoa is the protein, so no substitutions are needed.

●        Chopped salad; hold the tortilla chips. Vegans: skip the queso, and ask for extra avocado.

●        Cauliflower taco wrapped in Bibb lettuce, and portobello taco wrapped in Bibb lettuce (vegans: skip the queso).

Cauliflower tacos

Recommended Sides

●        Spicy cucumber salad (only 70 calories!)

●        Asian slaw (50 cals!)

●        Kids’ side of avocado

Recommended Drinks

●        Bartaco skinny margarita. They use their house tequila (Libelula) without the agave, to save you on the sugar.

●        Nojito: non-alcoholic, only 60 calories

Bonus dining tip from Heather

●        Women: Wear tighter-fitting clothes to dinner. Men: Tighten your belt buckle. Both serve as a gentle reminder not to overeat.

Eat healthy — and socialize — at Bartaco.

Ay, Caramba!

There’s a big parking deck directly opposite the Bartaco parking lot on Wilton Road.

You can see it right there, in the background of this photo.

(Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

You can also see that there is plenty of room. There is one car on the upper level.

But that did not stop this Range Rover driver. Or rather, he did stop in the parking lot — not the deck.

There he is, right next to the “Reserved Parking” sign.

And yes, that’s a parking job. He is not driving. He did not just drop off a passenger. He has not pulled over to text.

He stopped. He parked. He got out.

Or she.

And it isn’t even a decent parking job in the middle of the entrance! Look how far the driver is from the curb!

I need a margarita.

Adios, Chipotle

First there were dos.

Soon there will be cero.

Chipotle — the design-your-own burritos, tacos and bowls place in Compo Acres Shopping Center — will close next week.

An employee confirmed the news. The manager was not available for comment.

Chipotle follows Qdoba out of town. The similar fast-casual Mexican spot at the entrance to Playhouse Square closed in June.

Don’t worry. There are still over 2,400 Chipotles around the globe. And nearly 800 Qdobas.

Don’t want to travel far for Mexican fare?

Right here in Westport you’ve got your choice of Bartaco, Rio Bravo, Señor Salsa, Border Grille and Cuatro Hermanos.

And — of course — the granddaddy of them all: Viva Zapata.

It’s been around, I think, since Emiliano Zapata himself led the Mexican Revolution.

Westport’s 1st $10 Parking Lot Is Open For Business

Everybody’s talking about how much to charge for Compo Beach parking.

Fortunately, with two exceptions — the Saugatuck and Green’s Farms train stations — every other parking spot in Westport has been free.

Until now.

Last night I went to The ‘Port. Between that popular new restaurant and Bartaco, there’s now a great lively scene on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

Sure, parking in the closest lot is tight. With the removal of some spots from behind the old Save the Children building, it’s tougher.

Of course, there’s always been the 3-level parking deck, a few steps away across Wilton Road.

Spots are also available next to the deck, by the office building at 11 Wilton Road. A semi-hidden sign warns “Reserved Parking 24 hours a day/7 days a week/Violators will be towed at Vehicle Owner’s expense.”

That deters most drivers. They simply head into the adjacent garage.

But tonight a teenage boy stopped everyone who entered. He charged $10 to park in the “reserved” lot.

And the lower level of the parking deck was chained shut.

He told drivers they could use the top levels of the deck — though they quickly filled up.

He said his father owned the reserved lot. He added that the lower level of the parking deck was “always” reserved.

I found one of the last remaining spots on the upper deck.

The Wilton Road parking deck. The private lot at 11 Wilton Road is on the left.

I had a fine meal (salmon, brussels sprouts) at The ‘Port.

When I headed back to my car, the kid was gone. The chain to the lower level was gone too.

It’s one thing to close off a private lot — cheesy, but legal. A Church Lane landlord next to Spotted Horse has done that for a while.

But charging 10 bucks for a spot in an unused lot — well, let’s just say that’s not the way we do things in the ‘port.