South Swell has huge first summer in West Babylon


They’re going for it! 

The owners of Swell Taco are wrapping up a wildly successful — and unexpected  — first summer with their South Swell concept in a former longtime deli spot for boaters in West Babylon.

And owner Brooke Jankow tells Greater Long Island they’re going to keep things going on the water through the holidays — and into the spring 2024 — and see what happens.

In the meantime, they’re working on new fall and winter menu items, such as chili, soups and empanadas, in hopes of keeping the momentum going on the bay.

“We thought of this as just a summertime thing, but everybody’s been asking if we would stay open, and we don’t see why not,” Jankow said. “We’re going to keep going with the flow.

“We’ll adjust the hours a bit, and days when there’s five feet of snow outside we’ll probably stay in bed,” she laughed. “But each week is busier and better than the last, and we love it down there.”

Jankow started Babylon’s Swell Taco in 2012 with her brother Steve Zoerner.

South Swell opened Memorial Day weekend near the southernmost tip of Bergen Point.

How it happened

Jankow balked at the first opportunity to open in West Babylon.

“The property owners were looking for someone who could step in and make the most of the space and get a little energy and a vibe down there,” she said.

She turned them down.

“But it was kind of bugging me,” she said.

She was already familiar with the spot for gassing the boat up. She started to think about its untapped potential, as the building operated only as a place for ice, bait, beer, sandwiches and snacks for decades.

So in April she and her team got to work bringing that Swell Taco feel to the water, and outfitting the place for their cooks. They opened at 605 Bergen Avenue before they even expected.

“We were still working inside and people were knocking on the door,” she said, “so we decided to wing it.” Even with no computer systems in place, people were OK with some fits and starts and the oft-erratic hours of a soft opening.

“Everyone down there is on island time,” she said.

The place absolutely took off from there.

“It was well received,” she said. “Everyone was stoked we were there and doing something different and offering a place where you can enjoy the water with yummy eats, cocktails or cervezas, whatever.”

If you go

Featured above is the Cali BEC, a California-style bacon, egg and cheese grilled between two sourdough slices with tomato, cheddar cheese, chipotle cream sauce, scrambled eggs and bacon jam. Alongside the Cali BEC is an açaí bowl, Swell’s Blood Orange Margarita and and OM Organics watermelon and mint fresh-pressed juice, made locally.

If you’ve gotten this far, we’re going to assume you’re familiar with Swell Taco.

South Swell is a bit different. You won’t find an extensive Tex-Mex taco and burrito menu like you will in Babylon. But what you will find is breakfast, with the place opening at 7 a.m. and serving egg sandwiches, a breakfast burrito, the Churro Waffles, avocado toast and others. The tacos for lunch include shredded steak and chicken barbacoa options, fish, shrimp and more. Click here for the full menu

There’s room for over a dozen boats and parking is free, or you can go by car and park.

South Swell is small and take-out only, but there’s room outside to eat.

All photos courtesy of Swell South.

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