Northern California's Best Tacos

One of America's top taco joints is hiding in a Sacramento suburb

👋 Welcome to the September 17th issue of The Jaunt—the newsletter that strives to give you curated content and our personal insight about the people and places shaping local travel in America.

✅ This week we travel to a newly-minted marine sanctuary…in the Midwest, discover an under-the-radar dish in Pittsburgh, taste NorCal’s best (?!) tacos in a totally off-the-grid place, and discover seven quiet and lonely camp sites from Isle au Haut, Maine, to Stanley, Idaho.

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Lake Michigan Gets Its First Marine Sanctuary | Via: Chicago Tribune

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it has designated 962 square miles of the lake from Port Washington, Wisconsin, to southern Kewaunee County as a national marine sanctuary. The Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary contains the remains of 36 known shipwrecks, including the Vernon, and up to 59 potential shipwrecks that have yet to be discovered.

The sanctuary is the first in Lake Michigan and only the second in the Great Lakes. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron, off the Michigan coast, was established in 2000.

The lakes were the superhighways of their time, and risks came with the territory.

“All of the commerce that built America, that built the industrial infrastructure of America, came through the Great Lakes,” said Baillod. “When you looked out off Milwaukee on any given day, you’d see a hundred ships just out on the horizon. Schooners, steamers, boats of all kinds. You don’t see that anymore.”

Celebrating Steel City’s Famous Turkey Devonshire | Via: Belt Magazine

The Devonshire doesn’t have the reach of the Buffalo Wing or the aura of the cheesesteak; you can’t find it at Applebee’s, nor is it a Superbowl staple. But it’s Pittsburgh’s exceptional gastronomic creation. These days, it endures on a handful of menus in western Pennsylvania, offered at a few diners, delis, and bars as an exercise in nostalgia. (Union Grill, in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, makes a great one.) Today it’s often treated as a “fancier club sandwich, probably made with the same terrible, overcooked and dry turkey, using bacon that’s leftover from morning breakfast, and topped with a cheese sauce that has little cheese in it.”

When Pittsburgh’s culinary scene is discussed in the national media, it’s often as a shot-and-beer town partial to pierogies, kielbasa, and pastrami sandwiches piled high with fries and coleslaw—more Good Friday fish fry than brunch at the 21 Club. Or, conversely, Pittsburgh is celebrated as the gentrified come-back Rust Belt success story, a Zagat-rated foodie mecca for the New American cuisine, namechecking hip new establishments like Shadyside’s Chaz and Odette, and East Liberty’s Whitfield. But between Primanti Brothers and molecular gastronomy lay the Turkey Devonshire, too fussy to be mere bar food, but too stodgy to be on the menu of any restaurant catering to a hip clientele.

Searching and Finding NorCal’s Best Tacos | Via: SFGate

A Roseville, California taqueria is getting national recognition.

But if you ask owner Patricio Wise, there’s nothing gourmet about how Nixtaco makes their famed tacos.

“It’s just properly made with good ingredients and a lot of care,” Wise said.

The latest accolade has come from SFGate.com, who earlier this week highlighted Nixtaco with the bold headline that “Northern California’s best tacos aren’t in the Bay Area.”

Again, Nixtaco’s blue corn tortillas stole the show.

“It was nothing like the corn tortillas I’ve had stateside, leaving a lingering impression on me, even weeks after my visit,” wrote SFGate.com’s Dianne de Guzman.

Opened in 2015, the Nuevo Leon-native Wise says he wanted to replicate the kind of tortillas usually only found in Mexico.

“As you go to the markets there, you see the ladies grinding the corn by hand,” Wise said.

Nestled in a nondescript Roseville strip mall along Cirby Way, on the opposite side of Interstate 80 from both downtown and the Galleria, Wise says everyone told him that his restaurant was going to fail.

“We built this with the intention of making it more like a neighborhood place – and you can tell, we’re in the middle of nowhere,” Wise said.

But, in 2019, the little neighborhood joint got a glowing write-up in Food & Wine – who declared that Nixtaco has put Roseville on “the taco map.”

Nixtaco now goes through a pallet of corn a month. They cook and grind it in-house.

“Everything that comes in is fresh, so we need to process it really quickly. And, thankfully, we have that turnaround to actually make it happen,” Wise said.

Even in the middle of the workweek, Nixtaco was full of eager patrons.

“The first time I took a bite of one of the tacos, I was like, my God … I can’t remember eating a taco like that in the United States,” said one eater.

Seven Campsites You’ll Have All to Yourself | Via: Outside

These days, everyone wants to camp outside. Just snagging a reservation has become nearly impossible as thousands of people rush to land a rezzie at campspots in the wilderness.

If you’re lucky to land a spot, you still have to deal with sleeping among a crowd of others—an outdoor village, with people feet away. So, this list of far-off spots that will allow you to enjoy the wilderness, stars, and quiet all by yourself.

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