Update: May 30, 2014
The votes are in and we have a winner folks! This was close, but Darbster, those champions of healthy eating in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton edged out The Garage V.V. to take top billing—and bragging rights—as being crowned Palm Beach’s Best Taco by our savvy readers.
Congratulations Darbster, the tempeh tacos are a true treat. See for yourself with the recipe here. Enjoy!
What makes the perfect taco? Is it the meat, spiced to perfection with cumin and paprika? The condiments: a hodge-podge of sautéed veggies or a tropical fruit medley? When it comes to folded tortillas filled with seasoning and a dollop of salsa, it is hard to go wrong. And with so many iterations, tacos in Palm Beach County have never tasted better.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite tacos from around town, all stuffed with their own signature taste. But in the end, this just one man’s opinion, so we want to hear from you.
The Garage V.V. | Northwood Village
The historically hip neighborhood Northwood Village was injected with flavor with the latest eatery on the block, The Garage V.V. Part of Mike Moir’s stable of restaurants that includes Little Moir’s Food Shack and Leftovers Cafe in Jupiter, The Garage V.V. maintains the great qualities of those two eateries while bringing in its own culinary acumen, as dictated by proprietor Vivian Bordieri Moir—aka “V.V.” The restaurant’s mantra—freedom while eating and drinking—speaks to the establishment’s eclectic menu: A mash-up of Caribbean soul food, fresh-from-the-sea bites and Indo-Pacific-influenced fare making for an interesting collection of dishes. The vibe is French bistro meets industrial chic gastropub, the perfect match for the Northwood Village locale.
One dish that embraces all of the Garage’s culinary whims is a small-plate favorite, the BBQ Seoul tacos. Served in threes, the tacos are packed with steak, chicken or pork belly and topped with a menagerie of from-the-ground goodies: house-made mango salsa, shredded cabbage and carrots, and jicama, sprinkled with a queso blanco and drizzled with a spicy sauce for good measure.
Darbster | West Palm Beach & Boca Raton
For all the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd, Darbster has those taco cravings covered. The vegan bistro located in West Palm and Boca Raton specializes in natural, organic, veggie-based cuisine—raw and cooked—that appeals to vegetarian and omnivore diners around town.
The tempeh taco, a personal favorite, is one of the cooked dining options on the menu, yet it maintains gluten-free integrity. The toasted cumin tempeh is absolutely fabulous, even for a staunch carnivore, and topped with fresh house-made guacamole and salsa.
Give a vegan meal a South of the Border kick with a plate of nachos—a gluten-free starter to boot.
Tacos Al Carbon | Lake Worth
For the Palm Beach County taco connoisseur, the source of authenticity starts in Lake Worth and spreads from there like spokes of a wheel. The hub of it all in South Florida is at Tacos Al Carbon, a taco truck and small eatery in Lake Worth that has become a destination for authentic Mexican fare in South Florida.
Open 24 hours a day, Tacos Al Carbon offers seemingly endless protein options with a milieu of beef (sausage; sirloin, skirt and tripe steak; and grilled, shredded and ground beef), chicken, pork, seafood (shrimp, octopus and fresh filets) and even beef tongue. The ground beef—spicy and saucy—is stuffed in corn tortillas (soft or crunchy) and topped with all the tacos standards. No matter what you order, pump the spice level up with the green jalapeno sauce that comes on the side—¡ay, caramba!
Coolinary Cafe | Palm Beach Gardens
A trip to Palm Beach Gardens’ Coolinary Cafe is always a surprise. Proprietor and Executive Chef Tim Lipman is truly a gifted culinard, constantly tinkering with specials based on seasonal ingredients and personal whims. So when an item makes the short list as a menu mainstay, you know its good. Case in point: the beer-braised rabbit tostada.
Lean and subtly gamey, rabbit is a tasty protein but has the ability to dry out during cooking. Not so with Coolinary. The beer-braised process makes the meat moist and tender, paring well with warm corn tortillas and smoky chipotle. With summer around the corner, order a light summer beer to complement the dish.
Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar | Multiple Locations
In 2007, Rocco Mangel began his South Florida dining empire with the original Clematis Street Rocco’s Tacos location. The modern Mexican cantina concept—stuffed tortillas, fresh guacamole prepared tableside and a sprawling tequila menu—has made it one of the lasting downtown West Palm eateries. Seven years later, Rocco’s has grown in scope, with locations popping up throughout Florida and even Brooklyn, yet maintains a menu of great, fresh Mexican cuisine—of which the tacos are a fantastic example. The recipe behind these folded delights were developed through a thoughtful and studied approach, with Rocco himself even working the griddles of taco trucks in Los Angeles, traveling extensively in Mexico and visiting countless Mexican restaurants throughout the United States. The result: downright good tacos.
The menu has stayed relatively the same through the years, except for the newest taco iteration, tacos de calle—street tacos. Made with an extra dash of culinary panache, these small bites pack serious flavor. The Mercado is probably the most unique, with cocoa-rubbed grilled chicken topped with pappalo, yellow tomato pico and chile D’arbol, while Brooklyn is a foodie favorite. Stuffed with four types of pork (pulled pork, smoked bacon, chorizo and pork belly) and smothered with salsa verde cocida, it’s an indulgent introduction to street-style tacos and a reminder that if you haven’t been to Rocco’s in a while, its time to reintroduce yourself.
Guanbanas | Jupiter
Few restaurants can beat Guanabanas’ location. The waterside jungle eatery tucked along the Jupiter Creek specializes in Caribbean and Latin flavors paired with fresh-catch favorites, all of which makes for a stellar fish taco.
You can’t go wrong with the blackened fresh-catch fish tacos, which come with a handful of corn tortillas, guacamole, sour cream and plenty of toppings. The fish changes based on what’s fresh from the docks (wahoo, mahi, grouper, snapper) and is peppered to perfection with a spicy Cajun-style blackening mix. When paired with a craft beer or a tropical sip (Guanabanas has one of the best rum selections in the county), the waterside dining experience does not get any better.
If fish is not your favorite, have no fear: The Cuban pork tacos are second to none. The slow-roasted pork makes for an awesome taco protein, especially when topped with a dash of Rincon Heat hot sauce.
Word of advice: For side, get the Cuban black beans and rice and the fried plantains. They’re great on their own but are an also an awesome addition as taco toppings.