Swell Taco is a great local taco hot spot here in Babylon. If you have been to this gem hidden behind the main drag in Babylon Village, then you know that there is usually a wait for a table, but you also know that it’s well worth it. Walking into Swell Taco, you enter through a charming enclosed porch that leads into the area where you will probably have to give your name. But luckily they have a great little bar just steps away, where you can order a delicious homemade margarita while you wait for your table. Living in the village I have been to Swell Taco many times and everything we have we have ever ordered has been delicious. In addition to great food, Swell Taco has a really cool, low-key surfer vibe. They are so low-key, that their entrance is in a parking lot behind the businesses on Deer Park Avenue. But no one seems to have a problem finding them.
Swell Taco is owned by Brooke Jankow and Steve Zoerner, whose mission for the restaurant was to provide a dining experience similar to those that they enjoyed at family parties (they’re brother and sister) growing up in Southern California. Their goal for Swell Taco was a “relaxed, warm, and fun atmosphere where every guest feels welcome” and judging from the crowds that eat at Swell Taco, it looks like they have definitely succeeded. Since Swell Taco opened in Babylon Village in 2012 and a second outlet in Patchogue in 2017, they have managed to gain, as my daughter and her friends would say, a cult following. This is one of the reasons I have tried just about everything on the menu.
On this particular evening we ordered guacamole and chips to snack on while we made up our minds about what to order, as if we didn’t already have the entire menu burned into memory. The freshly made guacamole and chips are always perfect paired with one of their delicious margaritas or a glass of their homemade sangria. For dinner there was beef tacos, buffalo chicken tacos, a steak and potato burrito, shrimp quesadilla, chicken flautas, fish tacos and spicy shrimp tacos available. The tacos are everything you should expect from a place called Swell Taco.
The burritos are bursting with fresh ingredients and flavor. The flautas were crispy, loaded with chicken and cheese and came with a delicious chipotle mayo. The fish in the tacos is tender and moist, and the shrimp are seasoned to perfection. All of this superior Mexican fare was washed down with strawberry basil jalapeno margaritas. Just try saying the name of that drink after you’ve had one or three of them. The dessert menu is limited to their bucket of churros, but after all those margaritas, who cares. Of course, the churros were fantastic—warm and crispy and just enough after all that delicious food.
Swell Taco has great food, which definitely makes people want to come back but I think the food is only part of the equation. The vibe is colorful, loud and open. Brightly colored walls, funky artistic murals, cool music, and exciting surfing videos playing on flat screens all add to that special something that Swell Taco has. But probably the most valuable part of the “vibe” at Swell Taco are the people who work there. If you look at Swell Taco’s website, part of their vision is to “perpetuate a culture of goodness and of happiness and spread the love beyond our own walls”, which is brought to reality by their staff. Everyone who works at Swell Taco goes out of their way to be helpful and solicitous, to make sure all their guests feel welcome. Who knows, maybe we will all learn to surf and make the world just a little bit better.