Tacos and cocktails are a match made in foodie heaven. Throw in a tropical vibe and watch locals start flocking. New Mexican restaurant Barito Tacos & Cocktails in Port Jefferson has created a buzz since opening in December.
The 120-seat restaurant’s decor screams summer—even during the dead of winter. The owners decided on whites and pastels to brighten up the place, in addition to many windows to welcome natural daylight.
“We want our guests to feel like they are on vacation, sipping a margarita on a beach in Puerto Vallarta,” said chef Steven Scalesse, who co-owns the restaurant with David Prunier, Sean Nolan and Matthew Murray. “We built the menu and the concept around the room. Tacos and margaritas beg to be consumed in a sunny, open, beachy setting.”
Not surprisingly, tacos are the most popular menu item. Flavors run the gamut from braised short rib to battered shrimp to duck confit. Expect taco specials on Tuesday and a late night taco menu perfect for night owls. But there’s more for taco lovers, especially those who are local and active on social media.
“I have put secret free taco cards around Port Jefferson Village and posted the secret spots on our social media,” said Scalesse, who also co-owns Tullulah’s in Bay Shore. “The easier it is for our customers to get their hands on our tacos, the better.”
Also a bestseller: the chips and guacamole that are made to order. And then there are the cocktails that are equal parts delicious and educational. The delicious part is all of the fresh juices and house-made ingredients used. Forget lime juice or sour mixes. “We make our own margarita blend, our own grenadine, all of our own flavored syrups.”
Where does the educational aspect come in? The cocktail names. About half of them are in Spanish, giving patrons an opportunity to learn a little about the native tongue of Mexico. Take the Anticuado, which appropriately translates to old fashioned. Another best-selling cocktail is the El Barito Classico (house margarita). It is made with a blend of fresh citrus, citrus liquor, agave syrup and of course tequila to get the signature taste.
The owners of Barito Tacos & Cocktails are looking forward to becoming members of the Port Jefferson community and contributing to the area’s success. That means gearing up for the bustling summer season—an original ginger beer is even in the works in collaboration with Port Jeff Brewery.
“This summer is going to be killer,” Scalesse said. “Live music all the time, windows open, tunes bumping, beachy feels, margaritas flowing, great food—everything you would expect from a Mexican place in a beautiful space in the middle of an amazing village.”