If you think tacos are just kid food from a box and a pound of hamburger, a visit to Bodega Taco Bar will introduce a whole new world of tantalizing tacos.

One of the newest in an increasing array of international dining opportunities in Fairfield, Bodega bills its cuisine as Mexican beach food. And that it is, in spite of a strip mall location on the Post Road, nowhere near the beach.

Chef/owner Michael Young takes his beach food seriously, and builds here on the near cult following he has with his original venture, Valencia Luncheria, a very tiny, very beachy place in Norwalk, also nowhere near the beach.

Both locations put out some of the best casual Mexican and Latin American fare in the region, but the new Bodega is a bit larger, with a high-tech contemporary ambiance that juxtapositions reclaimed wood bleachers from Yale stadium to sleek brushed metal along a long bar.

But perhaps the real difference is that Bodega also serves up a sizeable tequila and Mexican beer list, unquestionably the best accompaniments to the intriguing and highly original menu.

Start with the soft tacos, of course. For a bar snack, order just one or two. At $4 each, a trio makes a perfect main course. Of the eight regulars on the menu, our favorite is the richly seasoned pulled pork topped with freshly refried beans, crunchy pickled red onion, and a sprinkling of cilantro.

Close seconds are ancho chile seared shrimp with cucumber-mango salsa and chipotle mayo, or grilled chicken with grilled pineapple salsa. Even the expected "Americano" taco -- the only one on a crisp shell -- is zipped up with fresh herbs, manchego cheese and crunchy salsa.

All tacos can be served in a lettuce cup or atop a chopped lettuce salad, but the soft tortillas are too good to miss.

More Information

Bodega Taco Bar 1700 Post Road, Fairfield INFORMATION: 203-292-9590, www.bodegatacobar.com HOURS: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, Saturday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. REERVATIONS: None Accepted CREDIT CARDS: AE, V, MC PRICES: Antojitos $9-$4; tacos, salads, tortas $14-$4. Main courses $16-$13. Dessert $5

If salad is to your liking, try the mango, papaya and melon with agave-yogurt dressing, or the beet and arugula salad with jicama and cotiga-serrano chili crema.

Chef Young has transported his Norwalk specialty tortas and added a few new sandwiches. The classic Cubano with both breaded pork cutlet and pulled pork is terrific, but not to be missed is the Bodega burger topped with crisp chorizo "bacon," melted fundido cheese and caramelized onion on a golden roll.

Main courses are abundantly and prettily plated, and reasonably priced. Try the slow-roasted pork with chipotle sauce and garlic mojo patacones, the seared scallops with roasted corn and tomato, or the grilled hanger steak with chimmichurri sauce and thick, crisp yucca fritas.

Bodega is also geared for drinks and nibbles with antojitos that range from a rich glazed pork belly on a fresh, golden corn cake sprinkled with green onion to a trio of ultra-fresh salsa that includes rich black beans, light mango cucumber, and spicy pico de gallo.

Other tasty nibblers are excellent guacamole with freshly fried chips, and the house specialty lime and ancho chili spiked grilled corn with cotija cheese.

The lone dessert is an intriguing burnt caramel and chocolate flan, which is a sweet ending to a spicy meal.