El Sobrante is a small, unincorporated section of Contra Costa County, California, near the cities of Richmond, San Pablo, and Pinole.

El Sobrante is a frightening place to grow up, full of speed freaks, slope-browed thugs, the hyper-religious, and lots of greasy-looking ex-hippies. It also features a seemingly infinite supply of bad hairdos, bad clothing, liquor stores, tattoo parlors, spectacularly bad food, and hatefully miserable cranks.

El Sobrante is also frequently beautiful, tranquil, temperate, and picturesque. And just when you think the people couldn't get any worse, some unexpected kindness melts your resistance and makes you wonder if some of the best people aren't in El Sobrante, too.

An elitist would hate El Sobrante for all the right reasons, but an authentically hard-working blue-collar type would love it -- also for all the right reasons.

Like most small towns, El Sobrante is mostly harmless.

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