Chef Kenny Gilbert strikes again with a popup taco shop in his food hall space at the beach. One location has four concepts: Gilbert's Hot Chicken, Fish + Shrimp; Gilbert's Southern Kitchen + Bar, Seachasers Lounge and the pop-up patio space that now houses Gilbert's BBQ Tacos + Beer.This concept of a food hall does really well in other cities; I'm thrilled to have one in Jax. Take note, restaurateurs, we want more of this!
Heads up: Now that there are several dining concepts in one building, you do have to pick a restaurant. For example, you can no longer order a Hot Chicken Sandwich while dining at Beach BBQ Tacos + Beer. Luckily, there's really no way to go wrong.
By definition, a pop-up is here today, gone tomorrow. Chef Kenny opened the pop-up April 27; the tacos will be available through the summer.
The menu is built like that of Hot Chicken, with your choice of "The Meats" and sides á la carte. Or order the tacos with the same meat, shredded and ready to be wrapped in a shell. I'm always down for a delicious taco experience, and barbecue tacos are a surprisingly rare find in these parts.
Chef Kenny is a well-known barbecue master. Each of his locations (he has three currently) has a monster smoker outside. If you really want to try everything, or have a large and hungry party, order the Ultimate Sampler ($45). You get all the meats: Prime Beef Brisket, Andouille Sausage, Alligator Ribs, Prime Beef Brisket Burnt Ends, Smoked Pulled Turkey Drums, Jerk St. Louis Ribs, and Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs-along with sweet rolls, pickled goodies and sauce for days. It says two to three people, but unless it's a party of hulking cross fitters or teenage boys, I'd probably say it serves three to five with mayyybe room for dessert. You can order each of these meats individually too, in half or full portions for $10-$28 per selection.
For our tacos, we chose the pulled alligator ribs ($14). The platter came with a heaping portion of pulled alligator meat, three taco shells, shredded cabbage, cilantro, salsa verde, sour cream, pickled onions, and tortilla chips. They pre-shred the alligator meat (which is very well-sauced, by the way), and I'm thankful because those tiny bones can be a pain. I hate to be cliché, but if you didn't know it was alligator, I guarantee you'd think you were eating chicken.
This is high-end barbecue, a low and slow process done right. Oh, and the portions are huge-the chance of leaving with leftovers is high. Chef Kenny won't let you go hungry!
The pop-up area is on the patio in a really lovely, breezy spot so close to the beach you can see the waving sea oats on the dunes. Good things rarely last, so make your way to Gilbert's Beach BBQ Tacos + Beer before they close Labor Day weekend. Who knows what will be there next!
If you have a recommendation, shoot me an email.