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It's not paradise, but it's not far off.

For 35 years I lived a Taco Bell-free existence. Fine, I will own up to having a single order of churros once when I was a kid, but other than that experience in the foggy past Taco Bell was, in terms of flavor at least, a complete mystery to me. For me, the biggest mystery has always been not “what is Taco Bell all about?” but “why does everyone I know who eats Taco Bell feel the need to immediately try to defend that decision,” as if they were caught listening to Nickelback.

I can’t say I’m any closer to the truth—it’s perfectly fine fast food y’all—but I do know this much: maybe people wouldn’t be so embarrassed if more Taco Bells were situated in interesting locations. For example, I don’t think anyone would have to explain why they were going on a Taco Bell run if their local Taco Bell was on the beach. No, not at the beach—I mean literally right next to the sand.

That’s the reality in Pacifica, California.

I don’t know how most people do vacation eating, but for me, it’s less about eating world-class food and more about eating in interesting spaces. When I found out there was a beach Taco Bell a short drive outside of San Francisco, I knew I was going to end up there when I headed west on vacation. It’s also how I ended up eating a jelly bean-shaped pizza at the Jelly Belly Factory, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The Pacifica Taco Bell lives up to the hype. Any time you can enjoy a taco while watching storm clouds roll in along the Pacific Coast while surfers make the most of the waves is a pretty good time. The Taco Bell knows it’s a gimmick, but they make the most of it. Stairs on the back patio lead straight to the sand, and there’s an outdoor ordering window for those who don’t want to clean up completely from their beach day but still want to grab a bite.

Sitting there with the wind in my hair and taco in hand, I wondered why this wasn’t a thing at every beach. The clash of nature and modern dining is just so delightful.

The only problem is that this has kind of ruined every other Taco Bell for me, strangely delicious tacos and all. Not that I won’t be eating at a local one before too long—I’ve become just like the rest of you—but I know in my heart I’ll be thinking about the ocean air when I do. Yes, San Francisco does have some world class eats, but sometimes you just have to eat fast food at the beach. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it.

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