Located in Pacifica, California, on Highway 1 just south of San Francisco, it offers million dollar ambience for the price of a soft taco. Coming from the north, look for the Taco Bell on the right just before the road heads inland towards Devil's Slide. Twenty years ago it was an A&W Root Beer, at which time it was the world's most beautiful hamburger stand, now its the World's Most Beautiful Taco Stand (WMBTS).

The building is on a public beach with a sweeping vista of the Pacific Ocean and hillsides framing the curving bay front. Californians can be relied upon to be doing California beach things, including surfing in wetsuits year round. Storm surf can be spectacular, comfortably viewed from the seaward picture windows of the WMBTS. In winter, a fireplace is kept blazing to ward off the chill. In warmer weather, tables on the deck are comfortable .

This is ultra California. Youngsters hang around, ignoring their redundant good fortune. Notice how deeply the inland hills are notched as terrain opens to the beach. This is where the San Andreas fault heads out to sea. Sit on the right side of the WMBTS at the right moment in the future and you will get a free ride north. That notion puts a little edge on the grandeur -- also part of the California experience.

In 1998, the interior was remodeled. They took out the fireplace and made a lighter, more spacious, look. I don't like the change, but many people do. The view is, of course, unchanged.

I first came to California on a business trip in the early seventies. At the San Francisco airport I met up with a company executive much older than I, who flew in from the east coast on an earlier flight. We had to drive to Silicon Valley, but there was time. "First we must go to the world's most beautiful hamburger stand." The old guy had things pretty well figured out.

If it happens to be your first trip to the area, you can choose to follow the same path as I did. North from the airport on 101, west on 380, north on 280, then finally west and south on Highway 1. After visiting the WMBTS, perhaps continue south on Highway 1 for the stunning Pacific Coast scenery. Head back east on Highway 92 at Half Moon Bay.

copyright Roy Latham 1996-1999, rlatham@cgsd.com
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