Raquel Panitz/Pipe Dream Photog

Food, drinks and industrial design? A new Downtown Binghamton taco shop combines all of these elements.

Garage Taco Bar, which had its grand opening this past May, features funky upholstered chairs and a bar running lengthwise across the restaurant. The outside patio area has benches and tables accompanied by trees. But the most unique element of the space is that the building itself has had many past lives; at one point Garage Taco Bar functioned as a Texaco gas station, a taxi service and finally an auto-repair shop. Aesthetics from this stage survive and influence the industrial vibe of the space, aided by concrete floors and shiny metal accents.

The restaurant is located close to other Downtown restaurant staples, including Lost Dog Cafe and The Shop, as well as various art galleries and coffee shops on Washington Street.

Garage Taco Bar’s owner, Daniel Sharp, a Binghamton area native, calls tacos his “favorite food group,” but he wasn’t always dreaming of opening a restaurant devoted to them. Originally, Sharp and his wife were looking for a building Downtown for a completely different startup. When opening the restaurant, the architecture and previous function of the building influenced its design.

“When we ran into this space and its location, we were truly inspired to open the Garage,” said Sharp.

Garage’s menu is not quite authentic Mexican; it has more of a Tex-Mex vibe. Crowd favorites are the fish and carnitas tacos. Sharp shared that his personal favorite is the smoked bacon slab taco served on the restaurant’s Sunday brunch menu. Garage has plans to add an in-house smoker, as well as a barbecue menu in the near future.

The menu items are fresh and mostly homemade. The guacamole is made fresh twice daily, and Garage makes hand-pressed corn tortillas for many of its specials. However, they have yet to find a way to keep up with the amount of tortillas used daily, so they have partnered with a Pennsylvania-based producer to supplement.

According to Sharp, there is a solid regular crowd at Garage Taco Bar. He attributes the presence of college students on a daily basis to the fact that the kitchen is kept open late (until 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends) and that the prices are budget-friendly.

“We do CommuniKey and UCampus currently, but rumor has it that there is a secret college special if you know what to ask,” Sharp said.

Because Garage Taco Bar is new to the scene, the restaurant is still finding its place in the Downtown landscape and is working on getting its name out there. Still, Sharp says that the restaurant has been welcomed by the community from the start.

“We have been truly fortunate as Binghamton has taken great care of us,” Sharp said.