Nacho Class

I live in Pittsburg. I’m sure it’s a Mexican-food Mecca, I just haven’t had the time to thoroughly explore my home base, what with all the commuting and extra travel and wedding planning and unpacking and such.

I miss knowing where to find a good taco truck, which could be a sign that I’m getting older; I prefer comfort and routine over adventure. But I did, recently, stumble upon a great little Mexican restaurant with casual, walk-up ordering and a nice price tag. I wasn’t surprised that I found it. I was just surprised by where I found it. I should have found it closer to home—instead I found it in Swanky-Swank-Town (Walnut Creek).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Dub-C, let me inform you: the public schools ask for at least a $1,000 donation per student when you enroll your children (yes, I said public schools) and the downtown is dominated by big names like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Walnut Creek; I always like going to places where I’m acutely aware that everyone I stand next to at Starbucks is richer than I am. It’s part of my spiritual practice. It promotes humility, and a service-oriented attitude.

I’m half-joking. I do, actually, really like Walnut Creek. And I love that there’s a little place centered in Swanky-Swank-Town, where the nachos come piled at ridiculous heights with some damned delicious carnitas for, like, eight bucks. Oh, and they don’t use squeezy-cheese. Precisely zero alien slime can be found on the nachos, and every day is a motha-effin’ holiday at Cinco De Mayo.

Tacos al Pastor make me sigh with pleasure when they’re done well. And not having to explain how squeezy-cheese doesn’t seem authentic is such a relief. Being able to feed my entire hungry clan for about 50 bucks whilst glamming it up in Walnut Creek feels pretty fantastic. And living close enough to make semi-frequent stops at what feels like a hidden gem in the heart of the East Bay is the best of all. When you see chefs from Walnut Creek’s well-known (and oft-voted one of the top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area) Va Da Vi stopping in at Cinco De Mayo for their meals, you know you’ve hit a good spot.

So, Chicoans, while your kids get ready to go back to school, you can be thankful for the fact that you won’t be asked to donate money to your child’s education—I mean, they may not learn to play the flute, and there may not be enough books to go around, but hey! At least it’s free, right? You can also be thankful that there is plenty of good Mexican food at your disposal. Like I said, I sorely miss that taco truck on 8th and Pine. Stopping there made many of my dinner times quick and easy. Hold the squeezy-cheese.

While my kids get ready to head back to school, and I manage my work schedule, I am thankful for my slow-cooker, because, hello, braising meat while I’m at work all day makes the house smell like a pork brothel, and also means we can pile all that deliciousness on top of chips with a bunch of ridiculously delicious toppings and have nachos in like 12 minutes flat. No taco truck? No problem.

Oh my god, I’ve become Rachael Ray. Or worse: Sandra Lee. I apologize, I’m a busy mom. Back! Back to school with you!

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Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at