Where to Eat Great Nachos from Coast to Coast
Photo By: Gillian Dougherty
Photo By: Eugene (Huge) Galdones ©2013 Galdones Photography // All Rights Reserved
Nachos Every Way
A heaping platter of crunchy, gooey nachos might be simple, yet its power to satisfy and comfort is undeniable. Whether flaunting pork, brisket or pickled onions, this cheese-shellacked blanket of tortilla chips is especially cherished during football season. Here are 10 of the country's best takes on this humble staple of Tex-Mex joints.
By Alia Akkam
Boston: The Painted Burro
Yes, Joe Cassinelli, chef/owner of Somerville, Mass., restaurant the Painted Burro, weaves traditional accoutrements like chorizo, guacamole and jalapenos into his nachos, but he also loads them up with more unusual ingredients, such as pork charro beans, three cheeses, Baja cream, chipotle, and cabbage and jalapeno slaw.
More About: The Painted Burro
Chicago: Little Goat
Nachos are a standout at Little Goat, Stephanie Izard’s more casual River North sibling to Girl and the Goat. Hefty portions of barbecue pork, pickled peppers, beans, cheddar, sour cream and avocado sit atop housemade masa chips. But don't think that will stop you from ordering the Choco Taco, a sundae in which those chips get dipped in velvety chocolate.
More About: Little Goat
Denver: Tacos Jalisco Mexican Food
Of course the tacos — choose from tongue, shredded beef with poblano chile, and more — are the stars at this northwest Denver go-to. The nachos, however, tricked out with cheddar, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos, should kick off any meal here. Subtly smoky pork green chile only adds intrigue.
More About: Tacos Jalisco Mexican Food
Houston: Ninfa's on Navigation
At the original circa-1973 Ninfa's on Navigation — not Houston's myriad Tex-Mex impostors of the same name — nachos, strewn with cheddar cheese, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos pave the way for the restaurant's acclaimed flour-tortilla-wrapped tacos al carbon.
Photo by Alexander Gregg
More About: Ninfa's on Navigation
Los Angeles: Border Grill
Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, the dames behind modern Mexican institution Border Grill, are known for their Skillet Nachos. At the downtown Los Angeles location — as well as in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay and the Forum Shops at Caesars — the dish arrives piled high with housemade tortilla chips, from-scratch cheese sauce, organic black beans and tender morsels of carne asada.
More About: Border Grill
New York: Hill Country Brooklyn
Settle in with a proper Manhattan at the bar of honky-tonk-inspired Hill Country. Then, stay awhile longer over a mess of Texas Chili Nachos. This hearty rendition unites the restaurant's famous red chili with cheddar, red onions, sour cream, pickled jalapenos and, of course, Lone Star State-style queso.
More About: Hill Country BBQ
Philadelphia and New York: El Vez
Sipping on a frozen blood orange margarita is one way to savor El Vez's stylish, retro setting. Another is digging into the nachos, which make appearances on most tables at these spots from restaurateur Stephen Starr. Embracing the motto "No Chip Left Behind," the Nacho Mama dish is arranged in a single layer on a pizza panlike dish, ensuring each thick-cut chip is properly dressed with melted Jack cheese, black beans, salsa ranchera, sour cream, pickled red onion and jalapeno. Upgrade to the Macho Nacho, and the melange also includes chorizo.
More About: El Vez
Portland, Ore.: La Taq
The Texas-style 'cue Rodney Muirhead churns out at northeast Portland favorite Podnah's Pit — all 10-hour-smoked brisket plates should be prefaced by Frito pie — gets the Tex-Mex treatment at the adjacent La Taq. Inside this cheerful cantina, Chef Johnattan Curiel tucks strands of Podnah's signature juicy beef into a fiery mound of chips, pico de gallo, sour cream and jalapeno. Wash it all down with a salt-rimmed tequila-and-Squirt Paloma.
More About: La Taq
San Francisco: Velvet Cantina
You could plump up the Velvet Nachos at this kitschy Mission District Mexican lair with chorizo or chicken, but with chile con queso, black beans, sour cream and guacamole hulking over a bed of tortilla chips, you hardly need them. There's only one dessert on the menu — s'mores — and it also takes the form of nachos, laden with crushed graham crackers, Mexican chocolate and hot, sticky marshmallows.
More About: Velvet Cantina