Shrimp taco (right) and fish taco (left). The photo doesn’t do it justice.

This isn’t typically a food review site. In fact, we don’t often do reviews of any sort, save for a trending chicken sandwich, a very popular space fantasy movie, professional wrestling matches in Raleigh or the biggest Broadway show of the last 20 years.

But when I uncover an experience in Sanford that I feel must be shared — an experience that’s still relatively new and, thus, probably unexplored for many — then I’m going to share it.

That experience was the shrimp tacos at Mariscos No. Juan, the new Mexican seafood restaurant that resides in Fonda Lupita’s former home in downtown Jonesboro Heights. The restaurant, which opened on June 12, is owned by the the same woman who made Fonda Lupita one of the best new restaurants in the country in 2021 before moving locations last year.

Mariscos No. Juan, like its predecessor, is comfort food. The menu is small — shrimp and fish tacos, ceviche or aguachile with tostadas and various coctels — and so is the dining area. My wife and I ordered the tacos, a few fish and a few shrimp. The fish tacos were fantastic — the fish light and flaky, the cabbage cold and crunchy and the sauce rich and creamy.

But the shrimp tacos. Those were another level. Enough to warrant an entire post about them.

Fried shrimp can be tricky. The shrimp itself can be too big or too small. It’s easy to over cook or under cook. The batter or breading on fried shrimp is equally difficult to master. Too much breading can overwhelm fried shrimp. Too little and what’s the point?

The breading on the shrimp in these shrimp tacos is perfect. It’s light and golden. And the shrimp themselves are the perfect size. About three or four of the gold nuggets fit inside the corn tortilla. Our shrimp was steaming and almost too hot at first. Same can be said when we ordered seconds.

The cabbage and other “fixings” on the shrimp taco are either identical or close to the fish tacos. You can’t go wrong with either — but we’ve had a lot of shrimp tacos and fried shrimp dishes in our time on this planet, and we agreed these were the best we’ve ever had.

It made us wonder why the lunch crowd that day — around noon on a Wednesday — was so light. I recall Fonda Lupita took a little time before word of mouth eventually led to lines out the door.

Owner Biridiana Frausto has hit another home run with Marsicos No. Juan. Our friends at the table next to us were enjoying the ceviche and tostados. It looked incredible, and they were big fans.

There are tons of places up and down the East Coast that claim the best seafood tacos in the U.S., but I’m here to say Sanford has a legitimate claim to this title.

Oh, and a single taco is $3.50 (fish) and just under $4 (shrimp), so you’re not breaking the bank here. Two is plenty, and three is a solid lunch. I had four.

— Billy Liggett