Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or you’re looking for some beach food or you have a hankering for authentic Mexican tacos, Atlantic City has plenty of very good options. Choose from the casino restaurants, pizza joints, chain establishments, boardwalk take-out and family businesses. With so many options, we got to wondering who had the best authentic Mexican taco on Absecon Island (Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport.).
But one of the great things about tacos is all the different varieties. There’s something for everyone. Some folks prefer corn over flour tortilla, California style to Southwest or Authentic Mexican, beef over fish, spicy or not. The options go on and on. We suspect this is why when we asked people to tell us where we could get the best tacos in Atlantic City, there wasn’t much agreement. But there were a few places that rose to the top. So, we set out to sample some.
How We Selected the Best Tacos in Atlantic City
To find out who has the best authentic tacos we asked Facebook users who belong to local groups for their recommendations. We had 12 recommended establishments. Many were suggested multiple times. We then took those and weighed them against the ratings for each establishment on Google and Yelp. We ruled out places that had a Google rating lower than a 4.0. We also considered the total number of ratings on Google. All but one had at least 100 reviews. That one had only 50 ratings but the overall rating was 4.5. We attributed the low number of reviews to it being a newer establishment. We like to look at the overall number of reviews because a few excellent rating or really bad ones won’t skew the average. This typically results an a more accurate rating.
Finally, we did a field test of each restaurant. Of course, our opinions are our own and are completely subjective. Also, because we did our research during COVID-19 we were ordering take-out. That being the case we can not speak to the service or atmosphere from any experience. We can only tell you what we thought of the food. But that may be a good thing because sometimes those other qualities can influence the overall perception. This seemed to be the case when looking at reviews on Yelp and Google.
The Top Authentic Tacos in Atlantic City
Facebook recommendations = 8
Google Rating = 4.4 from 548 reviewers
Yelp rating = 4
Despite getting the most recommendations on our informal Facebook survey this one fell a bit short for us. We give Panchos good marks for authenticity. They even make their own tortillas on site and they use fresh ingredients. Also, the open kitchen allows you to watch the meal preparation.
We had the Bistec Taco. The steak was very good but our complaint was that they were a bit stingy with the filling. Also, while we love that they make their tortillas by hand, we found them to be a bit dry and they didn’t stand up well. They became crumbly.
As a whole we agreed with our Facebook respondents that they were very good. They just left us wanting a bit more.
2303 Arctic Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, (609) 344-2062
El Rincon Del Sabor
Facebook recommendations = 0
Google Rating = 4.7 from 100 reviewers
Yelp rating = 5
El Rincon Del Sabor did not get any votes in the Facebook survey but with a 4.7 rating on Google we thought they deserved a try. We were glad we included them.
This place is the real deal. It’s a tiny family establishment. You can even expect the little abuela in her housedress to come out from behind the counter if there are any questions about your order. That really happened.
El Rincon is more of a carry out joint than a sit down. They only have a few tables. Our only complaint would be that the service is not fast. Also, they do not accept credit cards. Make sure you’re carrying cash.
We had the chicken tacos. They were loaded with meat and topped with cilantro and onion. The chicken was prepared with just the right amount of seasoning. The tortilla held up well too.
El Rincon scored highest for the most authentic tacos.
2501 Pacific Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, (609) 541-2549
TacocaT in Margate
Facebook recommendations = 5
Google Rating = 4.5 from 50 reviewers
Yelp rating – None
While TacocaT in Margate has no Yelp rating and only 50 Google reviews, their Linwood location received the Best of the Press Silver Award for Best Taco in 2019. It seems that should count for something and many of our Facebook participants recommended them.
TacocaT serves upscale fast food. Walk up, place your order (or order online) and head to the pick-up counter. If you wish to eat onsite, they have a nice covered area. Their tacos are more of a Cali/ Mex style than authentic Mexican.
We’ve tried the steak, the Angry Shrimp, and the Crispy Shrimp. You might surmise that the Angry Shrimp is spicy and you’d be correct. However, it is not overly hot and it balances well with the crema and guacamole. The crispy has just a touch of spice. The shrimp is lightly fried and paired with a chipotle aioli and a citrus slaw. It is light, fresh, and tasty. The steak tacos use thin strips of meat unlike some of the other places which chop it. They top it with chimichurri salsa, pickled onion, lime crema and cheese. It’s tasty and delicious.
Of the three our favorite is the Crispy Shrimp with the Angry Shrimp taking a close second.
If you are seeking an authentic Mexican Taco you may want to skip this one in favor of one of the others on our list. However, for a tasty California or Baja style taco we definitely recommend TacocaT. And apparently, they have great Poke Bowls, too.
8 North Essex Avenue, Margate, NJ 08402, (609) 246-6973
Facebook recommendations = 4
Google rating = 4.0 from 484 reviewers
Yelp rating = 3
In reading through the reviews on Google and Yelp we decided that the lower rating had more to do with the service than it did the quality of the food. After trying the food, we are going to stick with that assessment. We did carry-out so we can’t speak to the service. Perhaps takeout is the way to go. That’s a shame because El Charro has a wonderful outdoor space and dancing. They do charge a cover fee after a certain time.
We had the El Pastor which is one of their specialties. The pork was nicely seasoned and paired with pineapple and green onion. The pineapple gives it a bit of sweet and tangy flavor. In our opinion, this one was the best overall taco. It had great flavor and the tortilla stood up well to the juices. However, it was not as authentic as some of the others.
2430 Fairmount Ave. Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401, (609)-344-2900
Whether you are looking for a post-COVID sitdown meal or carry-out for the beach, one of these awesome taco joints is sure to please. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, plan a taco crawl to each of these places and decide for yourself who has the best tacos in Atlantic City.