Jeff Smith 11:59 p.m., Feb. 8
El Pueblo, salvation on the 5
Knowing about this Cardiff taco shop will come in handy for anybody hungry on the freeway.
Put this one in your back pocket. A gift from me to you. Knowing where El Pueblo is could be the difference between metaphorical starvation and burrito salvation along the freeway. There’s nothing charming about its location in a Valero station just east of the 5 on Birmingham Drive in Cardiff, a quality enhanced by the fact that the building is being renovated right now and the taco shop is almost lost behind the detritus of construction.
As if being wedged into a gas station weren’t bad enough, a charming series of typographical errors plague El Pueblo’s menu and other printed media at the restaurant: from “lenga” tacos to “chunkey” salsa and everything in between. Even the cook’s labelling of a breakfast burrito with illegible characters that vaguely, and only with a lot of imagination, resemble the word “breakfast” adds to the hectic charm.
And people still line up, day and night, for the seriously good burritos. The California burrito impressed me with huge amounts of steak, a crispy tortilla, and fresh fries. The fish tacos I saw produced by the dozen were all identically delightful and voraciously devoured by the starving captives of the I-5. Yup, being able to just jump off the freeway in north county and snag a first-rate burrito or taco at any hour of the day or night is a clutch play if ever there was one. Good job, El Pueblo. I know that I am glad it’s out there, seconds from the freeway where I might otherwise agonize over exiting, unsure if any good food awaited me. Being stuck on the 5 in a foodless situation doesn’t have to be so bad.
820 Birmingham Drive
Cardiff by the Sea
Open 24 hours
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