Fatbelly Taqueria serves up street tacos to Nevada City nightlife
Special to The Union
A year ago, Chris Goodman and his pregnant wife, Donia, were sitting in a bungalow in Thailand nest-building for their future family and wondering what they were going to do with their life.
A cook for 15 years, Chris Goodman, owner of the new Nevada City-based local food taco business, Fatbelly Taqueria, was fascinated by the street food he ate every night while walking the markets in Thailand or visiting Mexico with his parents as a child.
His wife suggested they go home and write a business plan.
Upon the couple’s return to Nevada County, compelled by his new parental responsibilities, Chris Goodman had to find a job.
He landed one, cooking in the deli at SPD.
At the time, he was reading the book, “Law of Attraction” and realized he was at a place where he had to make a choice — either stop cooking at dead-end jobs or start his own taco stand.
“Then I just got a spark. A fire. I saw the need for a good street taco,” said Goodman who first moved from Colfax to Nevada City in 2009.
Using a credit card with a $10,000 limit and zero percent interest rate for 18 months, he and a partner bought the equipment they would need to get started.
By the time they had the infrastructure ready to go, it was the middle of June and too late to sign up for any area farmers markets.
With debt hanging over him, Goodman began to worry.
Then in July, he found a gig at Ol’ Republic Brewery and sold 400 tacos the first night.
Fatbelly was launched.
Soon, Java Johns on Broad Street in downtown Nevada City wanted to host a guest chef. Goodman set up in the doorway of the coffee shop three nights a week.
Every week, Fatbelly Taqueria can be found there with a line of hungry people winding down the block, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“Sometimes two o’clock gets wild, with money, tacos and salsa everywhere. I’m all about experience. Everyone is happy,” he said.
Now he’s selling 1,200 tacos a week and rapidly paying off his debt, quicker than expected.
He sees a taco truck in his future.
Fatbelly tacos are simple, flavorful and authentic.
“It’s the real deal; I don’t buy cheap ingredients,” Goodman said.
Fatbelly tacos are made with organic, local produce and sustainable meats.
The pork for the carnitas is raised without GMOs, hormones or steroids and is slow roasted for 12 hours.
The beef for the carne asada comes from Longhorn Meat Company, is grass fed and free range and sourced from Northern California ranches that practice humane animal husbandry.
Goodman uses a “master stock” to cook the meat.
“Every week the flavor gets better,” he said.
Vegetarian tacos are made with tomato, mushroom and leek.
Local produce comes from BriarPatch Co-op, Starbright Acres, Sierra Harvest, Sweet Roots Farm and Chico-based Pyramid Farms.
The mild green and spicy red salsa is made from scratch. Sometimes Goodman offers a sweet and spicy pineapple salsa.
Goodman is busy these days, learning the ins and outs of running a business, putting in 70 to 80 hours a week.
Someday, he envisions a whole fleet of taco trucks, roaming the festival and farmers market circuits in Northern California.
Right now, he’s high on living the dream.
“I can’t believe this is real. Fatbelly was its own thing, under the surface of me.”
Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at email@example.com or 530-913-3067.
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