Fill Me Up with Regular, Hold the Premium
When I first heard the local Shell Station in Aliso Viejo was going to be selling tacos, I scoffed. How could a gas station offer anything better than hotdogs with questionable expiration dates endlessly rotating for days on end on steel rollers under a heat lamp? The answer is simple: It wasn’t the gas station that was serving them. Despite numerous trips to Lake Tahoe, I had never heard of Jimboy’s Tacos so had no idea they were an actual chain, and not some fancy gas station branding to get people to fill up more than their tanks.
Traditional Spanish Tacos Just Like They Prepare Them In… Lake Tahoe?
Jimboy’s Tacos is a chain that started in 1954 in a converted trailer that was towed to King’s Beach, Lake Tahoe to set up shop and introduce the locals to tacos—Jimboy’s Spanish Tacos to be exact. It took four years, but those goofy foreign taco thingys finally caught on well enough to establish Jimboy’s first permanent location which would now simply be called Jimboy’s Tacos. Ever since then, they have been quietly adding new locations and expanding their market share throughout Northern California, Nevada, Texas, and most recently to Orange County, delivering the popular lake side and ski resort munchies all over the southwest.
Munchies is the keyword. Their best taco, Jimboy’s Original Ground Beef, a parmesan cheese encrusted crispy taco, is different than just about any other taco you have ever tasted, and has the near perfect grease to flavor ratio every good late night munchie snack needs. If you had to compare them to any other taco, the closest match would be the Jack in the Box (JITB) Taco, the cornerstone of many a midnight taco muncher’s diet. Don’t misunderstand me, I mean that in a good way. There’s a certain appeal to the JITB taco that has satisfied many late night taco runs, but sorry Jack, Jimboys does it better.
Original Ground Beef
For starters Jimboy’s Original Ground Beef Taco uses real ground beef, and let’s face it, we’re still not sure what that paste is in the JITB tacos. I gotta go with fresh over mystery who knows what (meat/soy/soylent green?) every time. The shells are better too, unlike JITB, they don’t come soaked in grease, resembling a Shamwow used to wipe down the inside of the deep fryer. Top it with some American cheese just like JITB, add some lettuce and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on the outside and you have the taco that JITB has had decades to perfect but has somehow never achieved.
On Taco Tuesday, you can get the Original Ground Beef Tacos at the special price of 2/$5, and that includes a basket of chips and a drink. Granted, it’s still not as cheap as the JITB price of 2/$.99, but you have to pay a higher premium for being able to identify what you are putting into your mouth.
Not the Original Ground Beef
Unfortunately, there are other tacos on the menu at Jimboys, but they pale in comparison. Once you’ve had them and realize you could have had the ground beef at a much better bargain, you will know what I mean by unfortunate. Miss congeniality of the bunch goes to the soft ground beef taco–same great seasoned beef, but on a four inch diameter soft corn tortilla. If you normally order two, you better order four because each one will be gone in three bites. They come in multiples of 2 at $2.99 per pair.
For $1 more per taco you can upgrade to asada, chicken or carnitas. But not you’re paying $4.99 for six bites of taco and no drink to wash it down with, and these “premium” meats have nowhere near the flavor the ground beef does, so you’re going to want that drink. But, if ground beef on parmesan encrusted tortillas isn’t your thing, go for it. it’s your money, you’ve been warned. For my money, I’m gonna fill up with regular.
Beyond the Tacos
Refillable fountain beverages are by Coca Cola and they are dispensed in a Freestyle machine, so you can pick your poison and flavor it pretty much anyway you’d want. Horchata is also available, but not refillable.
A salsa bar contains mild, hot, chipotle, medium tomatillo and original. Cilantro, onions and limes were also available.
Should You Eat Here?
The Original Ground Beef Taco is so different, everyone should try them at least once. And then, I bet you’d go back again. You may not go out of your way for them, but if you had that munchie craving and you were driving by the Shell Station on Aliso Creek, I’m betting you would not hesitate to swing on in for a quick fill up of these definitely not gas station tacos. Of course, you may prefer to eat unidentifiable filler wrapped in a tortilla…smh. People. It’s people.
Jimboy’s Tacos (Aliso Viejo) Photo Gallery: