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Readers, Digest: Sin of Cortez offers fresh food, family feel

Christina Saschin

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The first time I drive to Sin of Cortez, I almost blow past its narrow entrance on the Esplanade. Though the restaurant has been in Chico since 1999, it’s two miles away from Chico State: typically out of the range of any hungry, busy college student that lives close to campus.

After I park, I walk through the double doors and see a large sign over the cash register: “Cash or check only.”

I anxiously reach into my purse and hope I have cash. I was not expecting them to not take credit cards. Thankfully, I lucked out. I put $20 into my wallet earlier this week.

A waiter tells me I can sit anywhere I like. This surprises me, since I usually have had to wait to be seated at restaurants.

The atmosphere is different from my taste. There is a generic electric-guitar song playing in the background, which gives off a waiting room or elevator music feel. But the walls are painted different shades of brown with red hints, which gives off a warmer, more welcoming vibe.

The restaurant is halfway full at 1 p.m. and doesn’t feel crowded. The server hands me two menus, one for drinks and one for food.

This establishment prides itself on its coffee, and has a separate drink menu for specialty coffees and teas. For a newcomer, all of these choices can be intimidating. However, there is a description under each drink detailing contents and ingredients.

Having a caffeine fix in the middle of the day keeps me going. I usually am reluctant to order coffee first, however, in fear that it will get cold by the time my food arrives.

The frothy café latte I order is piping hot when given to me and stays warm until my food arrives. Sin of Cortez does not disappoint in that aspect, but its latte doesn’t taste too different from any others I have tasted.

My berry and banana pancakes arrive at my table hot off the grill and complement my still-warm latte. The pancakes are fluffy, topped lightly with powdered sugar and have fresh, non-frozen fruit popping out of them.

In the past, I have ordered pancakes that were covered with powdered sugar and used frozen-fruit toppings. I like how the powdered sugar at Sin of Cortez is added more for presentation, sparing me from the sugar rush that would ensue if it was packed on before I even added syrup.

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Berry and Banana Pancakes with a Café Latte and syrup at Sin of Cortez. Photo credit: Christina Saschin

When the server hands me my check, it’s a little pricey for my student budget: $16 for pancakes and a latte. Though the food does not disappoint, I normally wouldn’t want to pay more than $10 for breakfast.

I wouldn’t necessarily go back to Sin of Cortez to have a cup of joe and do some homework. Given the price and atmosphere, I’d recommend coming here for a nice family breakfast or with a date.

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Restaurant Details

  • Location: 2290 Esplanade, Chico, CA 95926
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day
  • Gluten-free: Yes
  • Vegetarian friendly: Yes
  • Drive-thru: Yes
  • Takes credit cards: No
  • Reservations: No
  • Outdoor Seating: No

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Christina Saschin can be reached at [email protected] or @Stina127 on Twitter.

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Readers, Digest: Sin of Cortez offers fresh food, family feel