Thank goodness someone finally did something about the lack of tacos in Old Town. Buzz Bait Taqueria opened on Wells Street on Friday delighting the neighborhood with a menu featuring tacos, rice bowls, sides, and cocktails. Buzz Bait is a joint venture by the somewhat unlikely duo of the Malnatis and the Kamehachi team, but it seems to be working. The menu focuses on tacos made with sushi grade fish sourced by the Kamhachi team, with the goal of just a 4 minute wait to get your food after you order.
Both times I dined at Buzz Bait the garage style door that is the front wall of the restaurant was raised opening the restaurant up to Well Street. The restaurant itself has a clean modern look that fits right in on Wells Street. The space offers a few seating options, there are stools along the bar where the food is prepared and along the wall if you want a quick bite, and there are also booths and tables inside, as well as seating on the patio.
Upon arriving, you order, are given a number, and then food is delivered to your table. Your margarita might be ready by the time you have finished paying – they are really quick, but still made individually, and food arrives shortly after you grab a seat. The menu includes 7 tacos, 5 of which are fish; the other two are chicken and avocado. The tacos come in pairs, but you are able to mix and match instead of getting two of the same taco.
I have tried several of the tacos and I think what sets these tacos apart is the sauces and toppings. These are more gourmet tacos than I had initially expected. The BBQ Glazed Salmon Taco has house smoked salmon with a sweet chili sauce, corn salsa, slaw, cojito cheese, and is topped with bourbon bacon. See what I mean? Not your typical fish taco. The salmon had a sweet, spicy, and smokey flavor and I loved the texture that the corn gave the taco.
The Sapporo Battered Alaskan Cod might be the closest to what most people expect when they think of fish tacos. The cod is slightly battered and fried and placed on a taco with mango salsa, baja slaw, and yogurt sauce.
The Blackened Chicken Taco combines corn salsa, slaw, and cojito cheese with a spicy chipotle crema. The combination of the chipotle crema, chicken, and corn salsa was great.
The Crispy Panko Crusted Avocado Taco is the only vegetarian taco on the menu, the good news is that it is so good your vegetarian friends probably won’t mind the lack of options. The chipotle crema gives this taco a kick while the mango salsa and cojito cheese work to tone down the spice.
Another important thing? These tacos are big. Two was plenty for me. And you can get two tacos for just $8-$10 – making this one of the best dinner deals in the city. The large size and generous portion of toppings on the tacos justify the lightly higher than usually per taco price.
I don’t like margaritas. I am not a fan of tequila and margaritas are something that I just don’t order. Except at Buzz Bait where the margaritas are citrusy and not overly sweet and don’t have the bite of tequila. They are light and refreshing and exactly how I want margarita to taste. They offer both a classic margarita and a blueberry mint margarita which has a bold minty flavor.
I haven’t have time to really dig in and try many of the sides yet, but I did love the elotes which had a nice balance of cheese, citrus, and spice. I want to point out that they are served on a stick which is how all elotes should be served because they are both easier to eat that way, and more fun. Buzz Bait has 8 sides on the menu, many of which are used as ingredients for the tacos including: Mango Salsa, Corn Salsa, Avocado Salsa, Smoked Beans, Baja Slaw, and two types of rice. Sides are just $3 each.
The menu also includes salad bowls and rice bowls that are fully loaded with several toppings, like beans, salsa, cheese, and sauces. Plus you can add any fish or chicken to the $8 bowls for $3 more. Expect to see these pop up on my instagram feed in the near future.
To recap, Buzz Bait offers quick service food with a more upscale atmosphere, and they aim to have your food to your table in 4 minutes. It’s the perfect place to have a casual dinner with friends, and one of few places in Old Town where you can swing by and pick up a to go order.
Thank you Buzz Bait for making my taco dreams come true. Here is hoping that the Malnati/Kamehachi dream team will take over more of the vacant restaurant spaces in Old Town (seriously guys – I have ideas for you). When you go, expect to pay about $25 a person for a pair of tacos, a side, and a margarita.