Bird Rock Taco
Looking for that Baja California taco experience? No need to travel thousands of miles to SoCal or south of the border. Just take a short drive to Bradenton’s Village of the Arts and give Bird Rock Taco Shack a try.
The force behind Bird Rock is Dave Shiplett, who has formerly operated several area restaurants, including Ezra and SOMA Creekside, both in Bradenton. Shiplett has a long background in formal dining and studied French cooking in San Francisco 35 years ago. Yet the long-time surfer—who left Bradenton for Southern California at age 18—always wanted to try the informal dining associated with surfing and the Baja area.
“Now it’s a fad,” he says, maintaining that he had the idea in mind way before everyone else wanted to try it.
Shiplett found a 100-year-old cottage that was formerly a tea room in the quirky Village of the Arts and added bright colors, old skateboards, local artwork, and pictures of surfing and skateboarding. “People get up, walk around, and look at the art,” he says. Although plenty of food franchise companies are trying to emulate the look and feel of an informal taco hangout, Shiplett says his cottage location—really not that far from the beach—adds authenticity.
Bird Rock has been around over a year and while it started slow, Shiplett says this most recent summer has been “awesome.” Not only are more people finding out about Village of the Arts, they’re also drawn to his taco shack when visiting the nearby Motorworks Brewery or the adjacent Atomic Cat, an ice cream shop that’s also co-owned by Shiplett.
So let’s talk about the tacos. Oh, the tacos. There’s traditional rice and beans but we implore you to go beyond that. Bird Rock has 17 kinds of tacos made items like from eggplant, beet, and goat cheese, fried green tomatoes (that’s a popular one), and duck bacon (another big seller). There are tacos with chicken and meat on the menu, but Shiplett describes his restaurant as vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. There’s also a selection of burritos which will make your eyes pop out when you see their size.
Shiplett buys produce for his menu from the nearby Red Barn Flea Market, and he’ll often get creative making tacos with beautiful produce finds.
Bird Rock is winning over customers with its unique offerings. “The pork carnitas tacos are to die for—mac and cheese on a taco—I’m in heaven!” says Ann White of Bradenton. “As a Southern girl, I am picky about my collard greens,” she adds. “These are made with love.”
The menu boasts Dave’s Local Collard Greens, which are made with carnitas, hominy, and, as White notes, love.
Janice Johnson of Palmetto also tried the pork carnitas taco. “It was amazing and very filling. I also ordered the avocado bahn mi taco but I was so full from the pork carnitas taco, I could barely touch it,” she says.
Bird Rock Taco Shack: 1004 10th Ave W, Bradenton; 941-545-9966; birdrocktacoshack.com