Restaurant of the Week: bartaco at Hilldale

If you consider tacos to be basic on a gastronomic level, pay the beachy bartaco at Hilldale in Madison a visit to challenge that misconception.

“Inspired by a healthy, outdoor lifestyle, bartaco combines fresh, upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment,” says general manager Brian Gibson. “We are always looking to craft new fresh and bold flavors to our menu by keeping our menu eclectic.”

For example, the #bartacosecret is a special off-the-menu item that switches up every four to six weeks. “It’s a fun way for social media to merge with in-restaurant buzz while creating a sense of surprise and delight with some fan-favorites that make a return appearance.”

In addition to tacos, the menu features ceviche, salads, posole, poke and more. Subsequent visits certainly signify trying alternate dishes than on one’s inaugural visit. However, starting off with an order of “guac + roja + verde + chips” should be mandated for each patron as it’s hard to imagine the restaurant’s signature trio of sauces not perfectly complementing each main entrée. 

The bartaco team has tailored its services to best serve guests during this unprecedented time. The restaurant has safely re-opened its dining rooms and patios with limited seating while maintaining its coastal-escape vibe, with specialty cocktails crafted with fresh-squeezed juices; bottled beer; and hand-held foods delivered on metal trays. “Plus, the rustic design still complements the spirited bold and bright flavors of our eclectic menu,” Gibson says. 

Photo credit: Rachel Werner

The same can be said of the bar offerings now that bartaco’s margaritas are specifically formulated to be savored in-house or purchased as to-go kits—an ideal prelude, or finale, to a delightful dinner.

Gibson says bartaco recently launched a new #bartacosecret taco full of bold flavors that makes a great companion for cooler temps: the seared chorizo taco. “This secret taco is full of warm and robust spice—Mexican-style chorizo is seared on the plancha until charred and crispy then topped with a bright and creamy avocado salsa for a balanced and delicious bite,” says Gibson.

Like many food-based businesses, bartaco has had to pivot in terms of customer service since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One element Gibson and his staff have refused to compromise throughout is guaranteeing each meal they serve is crafted from a safety-first mindset.

bartaco is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. To learn more, visit

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