Southern California Welcomes Jimboy’s Tacos
Don’t you just love that warm giddy feeling you get when you walk onto Main Street in Disneyland? Walking into Jimboy’s Tacos was like that, but with the smell of the ocean and the promise of tacos.
Food lovers across Southern California can all agree, that friend the humble taco, is actually complex. Its versatility ensures that no matter what you are craving, somewhere a taco exists that will leave your craving satiated. I am no exception. Tacos are like Pokemon, I’m trying to catch ‘em all! To be clear, I am not an expert on tacos and I also don’t play Pokemon, but I do know more about tacos than I do most things, like geometry. The taco can be crispy, soft or rolled; al pastor, carnitas or buche. Each taco holds a special place in my heart. So when I heard a popular franchise from Northern California known for originating the American Taco would be opening its new Flagship in Huntington Beach, I threw on my shadiest sunnies and headed down to Surf City, U.S.A.
I stepped out of the parking garage onto 5th Street and PCH in Huntington Beach and the brilliant retro red and chrome Jimboy’s sign quickly drew my eye. While taking in the new open space against the backdrop of the Huntington Beach Pier, I expected a ‘67 Chevy Camaro to turn the corner and a waitress in shiny patent roller skates to roll out and deliver milkshakes on a plastic tray through their window. The open industrial ceilings and raw floors allow the subtle Americana decor to shine loud and proud. Locals and tourists alike can embrace its incredible beach front location with glass garage-style windows that start at the ceiling and end at table height. Made to open and close easily, these wall/windows are perfect for the fickleness of beach dining.
Jimboy’s Tacos isn’t just moving in, it’s becoming a part of the community.
Jim “Jimboy” Knudson’s story is just as American as his taco. The family-run food trailer Knudson founded in Lake Tahoe in 1954 has grown into a successful franchise with 40 locations in Northern California and Reno. With its roots firmly planted in an honest food philosophy and family values, Jimboy’s has begun its move down the coast. It’s first location opened in Anaheim in 2015 and after Huntington Beach’s Grand Opening Saturday July 21, Brea and Irvine will soon follow.
Jimboy’s commitment to quality fresh ingredients is as strong as the bond with their communities. As a sign of gratitude to the neighborhoods where their franchises thrive, Jim and his wife Margaret launched their Dine and Donate Fundraising Program. This program allows any school, church, sports, charity or non-profit organizations an opportunity to work with the restaurant to raise money. They make fundraising a simple process. The organization simply contacts the restaurant and sets a day and time. Jimboy’s will provide a flyer for them to pass out to their future patrons with all the information. Twenty percent of all sales from guests who come at that time with the flyer or the Jimboy’s App will be given to the organization.
Jimboy’s Tacos Original Ground Beef – America’s Taco
Don’t let the simplicity of the Original Ground Beef Taco fool you. Compared to other Instagrammable items it doesn’t look like much, but it tastes really good. Delivered to your table in a parchment envelope there’s something familiar about it. So you pick it up expecting the bottom to crack and all its lovely fillings to come crashing down — but that doesn’t happen. Somehow, this crispy shell that is dusted with Parmesan cheese holds its crisp texture but is able to yield to the pressure of a hungry hand and the taco stays together. The seasoned ground beef is topped simply with freshly shredded iceberg lettuce, pico de gallo and shredded American cheese. Halfway through my third Jimboy’s Taco on my second visit it hit me – it tastes exactly like a cheeseburger. But not any specific branded cheeseburger, the kind that your neighborhood grill master makes on Memorial Day for the whole block.
The Jimboy’s Taco menu also consists of different plates where the customer can make their own creation, be it a taco, burrito, enchilada, taco salad or burrito bowl. When the vessel is chosen, there are seven filling options. Among those are a vegetarian filling, kickin’ shrimp and a smoked brisket that will only be available in Southern California. But it was the MashUp menu that caused my eyes to grow significantly larger than my stomach.
Jimboy’s Mashup Battle
The Mash Up menu at Jimboy’s Tacos began when a customer asked to roll their taquitos into their burrito. Naturally, the hybrid Taquito Burrito (or Burrquito if you’re me) became viral and soon Jimboy’s developed more signature Mash Up’s to go alongside the Craft Your Own Mash Up menu.
The Creator vs. The Creatives
My friend K and I decided to share signature Mash Ups. Then, we would join forces to create our own. For the signature, we went with the Taquit-OMG: A bowl of their chicken taquitos covered in their house queso sauce, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole. The queso was nothing like the orange rubbery stuff you get in a plastic pudding cup at a sports event. It was similar to a béchamel sauce, but less heavy and it’s shade of orange was more of a pale tangerine than a CalTrans vest. If I had a spoon, I would have still licked the bowl. Next up, the challenger!
We called our Mash Up The K and A Now That’s What I Call Nachos 5. It was a compilation of Queso Fries, Smoked Brisket topped with Guacamole, Cilantro, Green Onions and Pico de Gallo. I’ve expressed how good the Queso sauce is, but their fries are another example of their mission to preserve the integrity of their ingredients. They are somewhere between a steak fry and a potato wedge. The hand cut potatoes reminded me of an au gratin despite its colorful appearance. The potatoes smothered in different creams never yielded under their weight. Their shape held firm but when you cut into them it, was like a hot knife slipping through a block of butter.
Standing on the shoulders of community, family, quality ingredients and a goal to make the best tasting taco, Jim Knudson’s legacy is as much of an American Dream as a white picket fence. Is The Original Ground Beef the best tasting taco? I don’t have the answer, I could never love just one. But Jimboy did make a taco that is as American as Apple Pie.
Jimboy’s Tacos | 120 5th Street | Huntington Beach, CA 12648 | jimboystacos.com