A taco might be the perfect food—a single, edible vessel holding any manner of proteins and vegetables topped with refreshing salsas, bright herbs, tangy onions, or whatever combination of those you desire. It is deceptively simple, ultimately portable, and draws on the regional influences of the food culture you find your perfect taco in—there are brisket tacos coming out of BBQ hotspots, seafood tacos on the coast, hamburger tacos in the Midwest, kimchi falafel tacos served with a side of Japanese tater tots coming in from NYC, and on and on. In fact, there is even a course offered at St. John’s University in Queens, Taco Literacy. Tacos are versatile, adaptable, and the ultimate hand-held lunch bite, especially washed down with a refreshing margarita. I’ll have mine on the rocks with salt, please.
Food can unite cultures so let’s break some bread, or tortillas, and get down to the best tacos on 30A.
Who doesn’t love a food truck, especially one serving some mean tacos? Taco 30A opened up during the coronavirus lockdown and has been going strong ever since. Everything is made from scratch daily, and you can count on Chef Chris and Chef Taylor to serve up authentic Mexican-style tacos. Protein choices include Barbacoa (braised beef brisket), Carnitas (braised pork shoulder), Sofrito Chicken (um, yummm), Ground Beef, and Vegetarian (a not boring collection of charred corn, black beans, poblano peppers, and on). The Mexican street taco is a delicious option, but the Oaxaca Macha Taco is so much more—grilled poblanos, spicy Mexican peanut sauce, salsa verde, and some gooey Mexican melting cheese make this the star. And, Taco 30A has traditional hard shell tacos for those old-school yearnings. Hit them up for a tasty bite, and if you are in striking distance, they deliver.
It does not have to be Tuesday to enjoy some tacos, but if it is Tuesday, get thee to Stinky’s.
They serve their taco delicacies from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday. They offer beef, chicken, and fish variations, but the winner is the crispy crawfish-filled flour tortilla version topped with corn relish, hello. For a home run, order the half grilled avocado and smush it all over those crawfish beauties—you won’t be sorry!
And because we can’t get enough Stinky’s on 30A, Chef Jim Richard brought in Red Fish Taco to further satisfy customer’s yearning for handheld taco perfection. There are dips. There are salads. There are margaritas. There are avocado tacos. Wait, what? Yes.
Two flour tortillas filled with buttery avocado, marinated cabbage, chili lime aioli, and fresh salsa—it is an explosion of garden goodness in your mouth.
If you prefer something a little meatier, they have you covered with pork or chicken carnitas, smoked brisket, grilled chicken, blackened shrimp, crispy catfish, or grilled redfish. There are shell options as well, flour, crispy, or grilled corn tortillas. Wash it all down with their signature Pyrat Punch, aaarrrrr!
In the words of our 30A staff, this is the, “…legit best fish taco.” That is a ringing endorsement considering the ubiquity of fish tacos at the beach. A generous portion of grilled fresh fish is laid atop pillowy flour tortillas garnished with lime cabbage slaw, and poblano lime tartar sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. George’s is known for their kitschy menu classifications, Misbehave and Behave, and this definitely falls into the naughty column. They also have a thoughtfully curated wine list that includes Spanish Cava by the glass—a perfect accompaniment to their tacos. Remember they, “operate on beach time, and do not take reservations.” But, I think that adds to the appeal.
They are keeping the tacos simple at Chiringo, but they are serving them with a Gulf view. Located in the artsy village of Grayton Beach, Chiringo is right across the street from the iconic Red Bar, and next door to the eclectic Zoo Gallery.
So, the tacos…they come Cabo or Baja style filled with your choice of four proteins: fish, chicken, shrimp, or pork. The Cabo version has shredded cabbage, fresh avocado, cilantro, sliced radish, jalapeno aioli, and a squeeze of lime juice. The Baja has peppery arugula, shredded red cabbage, tangy pickled onions, chipotle cream, and fresh jalapenos. You can’t go wrong either way, but I love pickled onions on anything.
Grab a taco, find a stool, and enjoy one of those fiery orange and pink Gulf Coast sunsets.
Fresh, homestyle, and local ingredients are what you can expect at Mi Casita in Seagrove Beach. Nothing fancy here, just tasty tacos. They come as a platter with ground beef as the filling or you can opt for their “make your own” style individual tacos. Options include ground beef, chicken, steak, carnitas, chorizo (yes, get this one), shrimp, and fish. Toppings are also wide open with lettuce, cheese, tomato, guacamole, jalapeno, and on. Don’t forget to grab an order of sopapillas—they are a fried dough served with honey, and you will want them later if you don’t get them now.
I am not saying you need to do a little research ahead of visiting Don Pedros, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Don’t worry I got you covered. The taco offerings at Don Pedros are unique. Yes, they have American-style with cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, and lettuce. Yes, they have Mexican-style with cilantro, and diced white onion on corn tortilla. You can get them as a platter of three or ala carte. And, many of the protein choices are familiar. There’s steak, chicken, carnitas, chorizo, fish, and shrimp.
But, then there is lengua and campechanos. Both are delicious, but not familiar. Lengua is beef tongue braised in garlic and onions—tacos de lengua is a traditional and beloved Mexican street food. Then we have tacos campechanos which are also a traditional Mexican street food, and made by layering several meats for depth of flavor. It is basically marinated, thinly sliced beef, spicy pork sausage, and pork rinds put together for a flavor bomb in your mouth. If you are feeling adventurous, Don Pedros has your passport.
I know this is about tacos, but I am going to get this out of the way—get the blistered shishito peppers. They are served with a guajillo honey, and I cannot recommend them enough. Be warned though, you may get a spicy one in the bunch.
Now, on to tacos…there is a lot to love about LaCo’s (formerly, La Cocina) taco selection, including the breadth. They have the traditional chicken, steak, shrimp, chorizo varieties. And, by traditional I mean Venezualan-style. The steak is a skirt steak with grilled peppers and onions, cotija cheese, salsa macha, and fresh cilantro. The chorizo is housemade served with salsa verde and red onions. There are some special ingredients to be found in these corn tortillas.
There is also a level of decadence unseen elsewhere on 30A. They have a chili butter-poached lobster taco served with charred corn relish and roasted red pepper sauce. But, my personal pick is the pork belly taco.
When you find good pork belly, you tell everyone you know. This is good pork belly.
It is achiote fried, has a pasilla bbq sauce, and pineapple jicama salsa. It is a dance of flavor and texture with every bite. While you are at it, get a glass of their house-made Peach-Passion Fruit Red Sangria, so yum!
Just a short side trip off 30A, sits Cantina Laredo. The tacos come in platters of three served with rice and beans and pretty straightforward protein options. The crispy traditional tacos are filled with seared ground sirloin, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomato. The soft corn tortilla tacos come with your choice of carne asada, grilled chicken, or sauteed mahi. The sauces and salsas are what set this place apart. The mango-pineapple pico de gallo has that sweet heat going on. The poblano sauce is a cool zing, and the charred corn adds a touch of smoke. And, if you come during happy hour, 4 p.m.-7 p.m., they are a bargain.
At the very Eastern tip of 30A sits Barbacoa Mexican Grill. They are a fast-casual taco option serving up made-to-order bites. Leaning more into the Tex-Mex realm, Barbacoa offers slow-cooked shredded pork and beef, grilled chicken, steak, and vegetarian proteins. You then choose your salsa, toppings, and rice. Everything is made right in front of you. The interesting choice here is you can request your taco wrapped. This means you get a crunchy corn tortilla surrounded by a soft, melting cheese-filled tortilla—it is the best of both worlds, no need to choose.
I saved my favorite for last. They say food is memory, and for me this one of the best. Every time I walk up to the Taco Bar to grab a bite, I am transported back to my wedding day, a few hours before all the festivities. My soon-to-be husband and I were exhausted and excited as we recovered from rehearsal dinner at The Red Bar, did a final check of the beach set-up, and delivered our centerpieces to Great Southern for the reception. We were also famished as people who forget to eat breakfast usually are, and decided to grab a quick lunch, just us. At the time, Taco Bar was just a walk-up with some colorful tables, long before Seaside became a mecca for vacationing.
We ordered the carnitas tacos. We still order the carnitas tacos. They are a simple preparation of braised pork, fresh cilantro, diced white onions, and fresh salsa verde tucked into a soft tortilla.
I’m not sure if it is the quality of the taco or the sweetness of the memory, but they will always hold first place in my heart for best tacos anywhere.
This list is good, but there were a few more spots loved by the taco enthusiasts at 30A Company that get honorable mentions. If you eat your way through the above, make your way over to these also awesome eateries: Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar, Amigos 30A, Los Rancheros (we recommend the chicken amigas with white queso), and La Chalupita Mexican Market.