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For the Perfect Summer Lunch Spot: “Swell Taco”

As soon as I walked through my cousin’s door the topic of the day seemed to continue to return to Swell; Swell Taco that is. I was out on Long Island on an incredibly humid day spending time with family. Well, my cousin and her growing family. We were talking all things babies and tacos, two of my favorite things. And even though it was still morning, lunch seemed to be on everyone’s mind. After my cousin and her friend suggesting this should be the spot for a foodie break that day, it came true. Not that I needed much convincing. 

I love Mexican food. Anything that can be served in a taco, burrito, or served near chips and salsa is a place for me. If they serve rice and beans, and margaritas even better. Proof can be seen whether I am on vacation as my recent trip to Austin ( or how to celebrate my birthday (

Last week I returned to a spot I love in NYC, Chevy’s Tex-Mex ( It is located in the heart of Times Square which I would normally try to avoid because of the pedestrian congestion but their food is just too good to ignore. I also like that it is a large space and even though I always make a reservation there really is no need. There are more than enough seats for everyone. During this latest visit I always enjoyed their watermelon margarita as it was deliciously refreshening. 

My area of Brooklyn caters predominantly to Italian and Chinese restaurants although if I had the urge to drive about forty minutes away I could have access to other ethnic foods such as Mexican. When it comes to restaurants on Long Island though I never had given the matter any thought. A diner is my usual go to when out there. But when given the chance to have tacos I am not one to refuse. 

Swell Taco is a family owned and operated business that took over another restaurant’s location a few years ago. It became instantly popular and soon added on an enclosed porch in the front. Based on the line I saw and twenty minute wait I experienced they need to look into expanding even further. 

“Swell's vision is to perpetuate a culture of goodness and of happiness.  Not just within our fall walls, but we hope to spread the love.  The love of food, the love of each other, and the love of surf, sun, friends, and family...
 Peace, Love, LIVE Swell”

The place was hopping and I mean that literally. The waiters and waitresses were busily serving the packed house as quickly and best they could. The place looks like a shack you would happen to walk upon near a beach in California, which is part of their charm and very purposefully done. While I patiently waited to get in I saw every kind of customer from those in bathing suits and coverups to men and woman in business casual clothes on a lunch break. The wide natured appeal of Swell Taco is all about the food. 

My cousin is a frequent visitor so I went with her suggestion to begin with the loaded nachos and ordering two tacos as my meal. 

The loaded nachos are a plate of freshly made tortilla chips “smothered” in Jalapeño cheese sauce, refried and black beans, ground beef and salsa Fresca. They weren't greasy and “loaded” up with the exact right amount of toppings. The combination didn't weigh down the chips and any extra on the plate was easily scooped up with the chip in your hand. I HIGHLY recommend them.

As for my two tacos I went with the seasoned grilled chicken (chop mix, Monterey Jack cheese, salsa verde, salsa Fresca) and the battered shrimp topped with a spicy chop mix, both served on a soft corn tortilla. Chopped Mix is Swell Taco’s signature filler for their tacos and includes lettuce, tomatoes, and seasonings. It is like a mini salad inserted into each one. 

I was blow away by the weight of the tacos when I picked one up in my hand. Soft tacos are a strange hybrid of a taco like structure but tasting sort of stale even though you know they are not. But they are the best at holding ingredients that are filled to the brim like they are here. 

I took a bite of the shrimp first and while it was good I didn't really care for the shrimp itself. I am a very picky fish eater and when anything has a slight after taste that tends to turn me off. The chicken was much better but I would have liked the chicken cut up into smaller pieces.

Although I have these words of criticism I still really enjoyed my experience. I would definitely go back. I would try a margarita and the crunch and munch taco that is a local favorite. It is a taco filled with ground beef, chop mix, and cheddar cheese in a crunchy corn shell that is wrapped in a flour tortilla and refried beans. Praise Jesus. 

Swell Taco has two locations, one in Babylon where I visited, as well as one in Patchogue, Long Island. However both are closed on Sundays so plan your visit accordingly.

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