via Chris

Menu at Berta Nava’s shop in Escondido (Sandy Huffaker)

“It’s everything at once,” Abraham Hernandez said as he jabbed a fork into a cardboard serving boat layered with salsa verde-flavored Tostitos corn chips and topped with, among other items, shaved jicama, pickled pig skins and stumpy tamarind candies. “The chips are crisp, the toppings are soft, the flavors are sweet and hot and salty.”

Berta Nava went to work on another order of Tostilocos, which she garnished with all those toppings as well as soy-coated peanuts and chopped cucumbers. She then drenched the whole shebang in lime juice, hot sauce and chamoy, a magenta-colored sauce made with pickled fruits and chiles.

“You can use any base,” she said. “Most people start with Tostitos. I can do Cheetos, the flaming hot kind, and Churritos, too.” (Churritos are stick-shaped extruded masa snacks, flavored with chile and lime.) “I can do anything you want loco.” Tostilocos were conceived across the Mexican border about 10 years ago, probably in Tijuana. Ms. Nava learned to make and eat Tostilocos 40 miles south of Escondido in Tijuana, where service is often less formal. Many vendors there just slit open a bag of chips and ladle on ingredients until the plastic sleeve threatens to collapse beneath the weight of what Derrik Chinn, a proprietor of a tourist service in Tijuana, called a “fruit-nut-nacho-lard salad.”