Review: Jilberto’s Taco Shop

SanDiegoArcoTacos2After a day of LEGOLAND, it was time to do some exploring in San Diego as a family.  We spent the morning checking out the shoreline and buying our boys their first skateboard.  For lunch, we headed northeast to Stone Brewery.  On the way there we passed an ARCO station with “TACO SHOP” signage.

A quick U-Turn and a stop for a couple “appetizer tacos” before lunch at Stone Brewery sounded like a brilliant idea.

Jilberto’s has a counter inside the station complete with three types of salsas and some of the best hot pickled carrots and jalapenos I’ve seen at a gas station. They also have a convenient drive-thru for those on the go who don’t need to stop to refuel.

Tacos here are a bit pricey. The pricing is a bit odd too. Al pastor, cabeza, and lengua tacos run $2 while more basic beef and chicken are $2.50.  For $2.99 you can order carnitas, carne asada or pollo asada.  Honestly some of the strangest taco pricing I’ve seen and I’ve reviewed over 40 places.

I went with two tacos so I could see what Jilberto’s is made of. I went with an inexpensive al pastor and a premium priced carnitas both on corn tortillas.   The tacos come with cilantro and chopped onions.


They also come with guacamole.  I sometimes forget Californians can’t help themselves with dumping guacamole on every taco in the state.  Fortunately, this guacamole was pretty good and didn’t takeover the taste of the rest of the ingredients.

The al pastor was a bit dry but still had good flavor.  The corn tortillas are store-bought so they are not anything special and they were served dry right out of the bag.  If I had only the al pastor, I would’ve been a bit disappointed with Jilberto’s.

Fortunately, the carnitas was a whole different story. Wow! The carnitas here is amazing. Perfect pieces of slow cooked pork crust with the meat still juicy and tender. It is seriously one of the best, if not THE best, carnitas taco I’ve had.


Even with the subpar tortillas and the addition of the unnecessary guacamole, the carnitas taco stood out and was well worth the $2.99.

I left to go to lunch at Stone Brewery down the street and had an excellent chicken schnitzel with mashed potatoes and carrots and of course a Pale Ale beer to wash it all down.  It was a great meal, but if I’m being totally honest I would of rather had a plate of carnitas tacos from Jilberto’s.

Gas Station: ARCO

Address:  538 Nordahl Rd, Escondido, CA 92029

Rating (4 out of 5):


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Categories: Reviews

Author:Chris Baccus

Accomplished marketer, home cook and aspirational bass player.


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One Comment on “Review: Jilberto’s Taco Shop”

  1. K
    December 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Well at least it was not a loss with the Carnitas! 🙂 I just stumbled on your Sustainable Dad blog, and subsequently this one.


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