With a Mexican surfside vibe, Barito Tacos and Cocktails has opened in Port Jefferson.
The restaurant takes over the roomy second-floor space that used to hold The Arden, directly above Starbucks — with the clubby, woodsy vibe replaced by distressed whiteboard walls, pastel window shutters, a dragon mural and a centerpiece bar refurbished with Aztec-style tiles.
Chef Steven Scalesse of Bay Shore’s Tullulah’s is helming the kitchen, pressing and frying masa into tortillas for a menu centered on tacos, pupusas, and Mexican and Latin street food.
“As far as I know, no one on Long Island is making their own tortillas,” said Sean Nolan, also of Tullulah’s, who partnered with Scalesse, Dave Prunier and Matt Murray on the project.
Tacos are old hat for Scalesse, who was a partner in Islip Terrace’s Magic Taco Corp. until that business burned down in early 2015.
The tacos come in six loaded iterations here ($10 for two), including a house brisket and smoked pork belly. Pork belly also reappears as one of four types of pupusa ($7-$10), which also come filled with another part of the pig: crispy pork rinds, aka chicharrones ($7). Those are, in turn, also offered as a stand-alone appetizer with salsa and cotija cheese ($7), as are street corn fritters ($8) and puffy, puri-shaped house tortilla chips with red salsa or guacamole ($8 and market price, respectively).
Soon larger plates, “la cena,” will be in rotation, including porchetta al pastor ($28). Seafood for fish tacos and burritos, plus a seasonal fish entree, will come from East End seafood purveyor Braun Seafood Co., said Nolan.
The drink menu pivots on Mexican sodas, fresh juices and Mexico-inspired cocktails such as margaritas and Paloma, as well as Fernet-spiked Mexican coke ($8-$12). One of the eight taps is hooked to Modelo Especial, another to Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, and two to malbec and pinot grigio.
Barito will eventually open daily for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. For now, call in advance.
Barito Tacos and Cocktails, 201 Main St. (upstairs), 631-828-8808.