50 States of Nachos
There are no rules when it comes to nachos, and maybe that's why there's an overwhelming array of mouthwatering alternatives to choose from. Though singling out the best, state by state, would be impossible for a dish with seemingly infinite arrangements, here are 50 nachos that capture the wildly different personalities of all 50 states.
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Pork Chili Nachos at El Camino Community Tavern: Colorado
Porky green chili is synonymous with Colorado cuisine, and at Denver’s El Camino Community Tavern — set in a onetime liquor store in Highlands Square — it plays a starring role in the nachos. Covering the bed of thick-cut chips, the chili plays nice with black beans, melted cheese, crema, pickled jalapeno, pico de gallo and cilantro.
Black Bean and Short Rib Nachos at Lolita: Pennsylvania
Hit-making restaurateurs Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran have helped revitalize the Philadelphia dining scene with their numerous concepts, including Lolita in Midtown Village. Inspired by Mexican street food, the space cranks out plenty of tacos and enchiladas, yet it’s hard to resist the nachos, which pair black beans, queso, charred corn, Fresno chile and avocado crema with guajillo-braised short rib. Wash it all down with a cucumber-jalapeno margarita.
Pork Rind Nachos at the Pig & Pint: Mississippi
Feasts at the Pig and Pint in Jackson’s Fondren district often call for craft beer, pork belly corndogs and pork rind nachos. Whether pulled pork, smoked chicken or brisket is the meat of choice accompanying those rinds, the nachos are overloaded with queso, smokehouse beans, pickled onion, pico de gallo, jalapeno, sour cream and Mississippi "sweet" BBQ sauce.
Crabmeat Potato Chip Nachos at Deanie's Seafood: Louisiana
New Orleans restaurants revel in a bounty of fresh fish. Old-timer Deanie's Seafood, which debuted as a market in 1961, is one of them. Nachos, available at both locations of Deanie's in the French Quarter and Metairie, meld cheesy potato chips with green onion and fresh morsels of crabmeat, making this dish an apt prelude to the mammoth crawfish quartet.
Filet Mignon Nachos at Nacho Daddy: Nevada
Nacho Daddy, with Las Vegas locales on the Strip, downtown and in Summerlin, is an upbeat grill that puts margaritas and myriad permutations of nachos — from Thai chicken to sloppy joe — in the limelight. There are even Golden Knights Nachos, named for Vegas’ ice hockey team, with ingredients such as queso, carne asada, mushrooms and pickled cherry peppers. That’s just one of the ways that Nacho Daddy connects with the community; it has also donated hundreds of thousands of meals so far to local food bank Three Square.
Buffalo Chicken Nachos at Anchor Bar: New York
New York City is awash in fantastic nachos platters, whether they’re served at no-frills taquerias or hipster bars. But when up in Buffalo, it’s wise to pay a visit to the Anchor Bar — the 1964 birthplace of the tangy triad of spicy chicken wing, celery and blue cheese — for its take on nachos. Multicolored tortilla chips, diced chicken, cheese, tomato, lettuce, black olive and sour cream are enlivened by Anchor’s spicy, addictive wing sauce.
Greek-Style Shrimp Nachos at COASTAL: Alabama
Inspired by his time cooking in Birmingham, where a dynamic Greek community thrives, Gulf Shores chef Chris Sherrill dreamed up a nacho recipe featuring a spinach-feta cream sauce spiked with ouzo. Served at the beach bar and restaurant COASTAL, the dish shuns tortilla chips for wontons and is topped with green olive, chopped tomato, and peppadew and banana peppers, as well as plenty of the sweet shrimp for which the Gulf Coast is famed.
Green Chile Nachos at Rio Chama: New Mexico
Green chile pervades New Mexican cooking, and the nachos at earthy, Southwestern-style Rio Chama Steakhouse in downtown Santa Fe are no exception. Topped with a melange of fire-roasted chile sauce, chicken, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole, these nachos often pave the way for the 48-hour-brined prime rib.
Live Nachos at Blossoming Lotus: Oregon
There’s always been vegan-friendly dining in funky Portland, a city that places a premium on health and wellness. One of the standout vegan restaurants is Blossoming Lotus, in the northeast part of the city. Its gluten- and soy-free Live Nachos are a refreshing twist on the typically colossal dish, made with spicy sprouted chips, cheese sauce, pecan chorizo and cashew sour crema, as well as the familiar lineup of onion, tomato, avocado, scallion, cilantro and lime. Try them after a round of the bar’s beet-infused-vodka cocktails.
Tin Can Nachos at Lake Effect: Utah
Live music and craft cocktails like the Lavender Milk Punch are enough incentive to spend an evening holed up at the downtown Salt Lake City restaurant and bar Lake Effect. But the Tin Can Nachos with barbacoa, carnitas, ancho chicken or jackfruit certainly sweeten the deal. Housemade white corn tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, black beans and jalapeno are beautifully layered and baked in a tin can before getting anointed with tomatillo salsa, crema fresca, cherry tomato, scallion and avocado.
Pork Carnitas Nachos at Cantina Leña: Washington
Everything the prolific Seattle chef Tom Douglas touches ostensibly turns to gold. One example from his vast restaurant portfolio is Cantina Lena. This soulful Mexican restaurant downtown grinds its own masa, offers ancho beef mole tacos for happy hour and makes nachos weighed down with crispy pork carnitas, black beans and fundido. Brightened by green chile, guacamole, pickled onion and Tapatio sour cream, the nachos leave guests hankering for one of the Paloma cocktails on tap.
Bison Nachos at The Fold: Botanas & Bar: Arkansas
A champion of fresh and local ingredients, The Fold: Botanas & Bar originated as an Austin food truck before taking over a circa-1960 filling station in Little Rock’s Riverdale neighborhood. Among the favorites at this colorful, modern Mexican restaurant with a boisterous patio scene are the nachos. Marrying black beans, habanero queso, pico de gallo, pickled onion, cilantro and crema Mexicana, they are at their finest when loaded with meats like bison or brisket.
Tater Tot Nachos at The Blue Door Pub: Minnesota
It’s the Blucy burger, an iteration of the Juicy Lucy, for which the Blue Door Pub is best known. However, the Hella Totchos — available at the pub’s four locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul — are just as clever. Forgoing tortilla chips for Tater Tots, the potato dish that frequently makes cameos at Minnesota potlucks, they're smothered in queso, mojo pulled pork, corn salsa, cilantro-lime sauce, Cotija cheese, onion and lettuce.
North Face Nachos at Sitzmark Bar & Grill: Alaska
A circa-1970s institution, the lodgelike Sitzmark Bar & Grill opened in Girdwood as a convivial apres-ski lair. Enhanced by live music and views of the slopes, eating at this nostalgic spot regularly revolves around a platter of North Face Nachos. They bring together cheddar and Jack cheeses, tomato, onion, jalapenos, sour cream and salsa, with optional protein-packed black beans or chili.
Chorizo Nachos at the Cup Cafe: Arizona
Stellar nachos abound in Tucson, but those craving an atmospheric dose of history with their meal should head downtown to the Hotel Congress. Dating from 1919, the property is home to the Cup Cafe, where the comforting bar menu illuminates Picacho Nachos. Layered with Jack cheese, bean dip, chili con queso, pepper, onion, tomato and salsa, these nachos can — and should — be ordered with the optional local-chorizo splurge.
Super Nacho Hour at Bar Amá: California
Super Nacho Hour draws numerous locals to Chef-Owner Josef Centeno’s Bar Ama in downtown Los Angeles for $5 micheladas and glorious stacks of nachos. Choose from the nachos with avocado, crema and the tomato-bread puree salmorejo with picadillo or chorizo, or the vegan spin with cashew poblano queso that is fittingly Californian in spirit. Here, caviar, in the form of trout roe or white sturgeon, can also plump up nachos.
Jerk Lobster Nachos at Chapter One: Connecticut
Less well-known than its cold, mayo-doused cousin hailing from Maine, the simple, hot-buttered lobster roll is a Connecticut-bred phenomenon. To honor this creation, Chapter One Fine Food & Drink in Mystic makes its nachos with fresh cold-water lobster meat tossed in jerk seasoning, combined with avocado, pico de gallo and goat cheese, and served over housemade tortilla chips dotted with Sriracha.
Chicken Chili Nachos at Deer Park Tavern: Delaware
Adjacent to the University of Delaware campus in Newark, Deer Park Tavern — and the inn that stood in its place from 1747 to 1851 — has hosted numerous historic heavyweights, from George Washington to Edgar Allan Poe, and is rumored to have been a Civil War-era stop on the Underground Railroad. The tavern’s Los Nachos Grande, a mess of chicken, chili, sour cream, jalapeno, lettuce and tomato, is a dish repeatedly sought out by the guests of this lively college bar.
Vegetarian Cauliflower Nachos at Sweet Liberty: Florida
It isn’t just playful cocktails like the Sweet Potato Pain Killer and the Rye Tai that keep guests returning to the laid-back Sweet Liberty in Miami’s Collins Park neighborhood. Its solid menu of comforting bar grub is also a hit, including the vegetarian cauliflower nachos that showcase a blended cheese sauce, avocado crema, cilantro, radish, green chile and pomegranate.
Waffle Fry Nachos at Smoke Ring: Georgia
Smoke Ring, Chef Jordan Wakefield's contemporary Georgia-style barbecue joint in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood of Atlanta, is just as well-regarded for its Pig Sty Nachos as for its ribs. Rather than traditional tortilla chips, Wakefield's nachos call for waffle fries, laden with pico de gallo, cilantro sour cream, jalapeno and, naturally, chunks of smoked pork.
Poke Nachos at Sam Choy & Tita's: Hawaii
Chock-full of shops and food, Hukilau Marketplace at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, on the island of Oahu, calls to mind a breezy, bygone Hawaii. Stop off at Sam Choy and Tita’s Seafood & Poke truck, where celeb chef Choy — a pioneer of Pacific Rim cuisine — weaves his lauded raw-fish recipe into nachos with mango salsa, cheese, aioli and a cream sauce with a jolt of spice.
French Fry Nachos at Power House: Idaho
Some 20 minutes south of the outdoor mecca Sun Valley Resort is Power House, a hybrid pub and bike shop in Hailey with a vintage bicycle display. In a nod to the state’s most-celebrated foodstuff, cut-to-order fries are the base of the Idaho Nachos, cloaked in chili, cheddar, goat cheese, sour cream and onion. After your meal, inhale more of that country air with a session on the bocce court.
Deep-Dish Pizza Nachos at Gino's East: Illinois
Deep-dish pizza is so embedded in Chicago’s culinary canon that it’s not surprising one of the city’s premier purveyors of this specialty, Gino’s East, cranks out a nacho riff on the bready pie. First, housemade tortilla chips are layered in a pizza pan. Then, refried beans and melted cheddar cheese are added, followed by black olives, jalapenos and salsa.
Chipotle Chicken Nachos at The Tamale Place: Indiana
Half-pound tamales attract lines at the family-run Tamale Place, a trio of esteemed Indianapolis eateries. Nachos, heaped with steak, veggies or chipotle chicken, are also highlights. Underneath the pickled jalapenos and habanero salsita are quality tortilla chips that The Tamale Place makes by first boiling corn and then laboriously grinding it into masa.
Pinto Bean Nachos at University Library Café: Iowa
Drake University students and staff loyally frequent the cozy University Library Café. The Des Moines watering hole has an impressive roster of Iowa craft beers, each a quenching companion to the bar’s venerable flour-tortilla nachos made with pinto beans, shredded cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese sauce, salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream and, for a textural touch, rings of banana pepper.
Slow-Smoked Brisket Nachos at Augustino Brewing Company: Kansas
Kansas is cattle country, and the nachos devoured at Augustino Brewing Company in Wichita pay homage to the state’s carnivorous leanings. Small, slow-smoked batches of brisket are evenly spread throughout the layers of just-made tortilla chips. Lest folks forget they are kicking back in a brewery, the sour cream and sweet BBQ sauce incorporated into the nachos are laced with craft beer produced on the premises.
Goetta Nachos at Colonial Cottage: Kentucky
Goetta, the meat-and-oats sausage beloved by denizens of Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, dominates the distinctive nacho preparation at Colonial Cottage in Erlanger. At this Depression-era country-style restaurant with a Sunday buffet, goetta is served atop the tortilla chips brown and crispy, tangled with cheese sauce, bell pepper, sweet yellow onion and jalapeno.
Carne Asada Nachos at Luchador Tacos: Maine
It has a small menu — tacos, burritos, quesadillas — but now that the bare-bones Luchador Tacos has outgrown its South Paris carry-out trailer and become a proper restaurant, the nachos specials are welcome permanent fixtures. Mirroring the hearty rendition relished in Chef-Owner Katherine Mitchell's native East Los Angeles, the carne asada nachos simply unite chunks of juicy meat with cheese, green salsa and sour cream.
Chipotle Crab Nachos at Sandlot: Maryland
Powerhouse Baltimore chef Spike Gjerde of Foodshed Group has long prioritized sustainability. His most-recent venture is the makeshift, seasonal Sandlot. At this Harbor Point restaurant and recreational hub, Gringo nachos pair illustrious Maryland crab with chipotle salsa, beer cheese, spring onion and pickled pepper. Eat them perched on a picnic bench, boozy slushie at the ready, while overlooking the water.
Salt-and-Pepper Potato Nachos at Sweet Cheeks Q: Massachusetts
Sweet Cheeks Q is about a five-minute stroll from Fenway Park, so of course Bostonians flock to its communal tables before and after Red Sox games. They come for one of Chef-Owner Tiffani Faison’s hefty barbecue trays, or her creative take on nachos, in which tortilla chips are swapped for salt-and-pepper potatoes. Piled on top are BBQ beans, Jack and cheddar cheeses, sour cream, jalapeno, scallion and one of Faison’s tender, can’t-miss meats: pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, pork belly or burnt ends.
Cheddar-Ale Pulled Pork Nachos at Ascension Brewing Co.: Michigan
Beer and food go hand in hand at Ascension Brewing Co. in Novi. The animated taproom of this microbrewery is filled with diners knocking back Binaural Beats sour IPAs alongside Mr. Piggins Brewery Nachos made from scratch with 12-hour-cooked pulled pork, red onion, green onion and pico de gallo. Cheddar-ale sauce tinged with the brewery's own beer and a Sriracha-bourbon BBQ sauce boldly elevate the dish.
Fried Wonton Nachos at Gettin' Basted: Missouri
Kansas City usually gets the lion’s share of Missouri BBQ accolades, but the entertainment epicenter of Branson also flaunts some gratifying 'cue at Gettin' Basted. Before tackling the burnt-ends plate at this low-key place run by vets of the championship circuit, seek out the Basted Nachos. Crispy fried wontons are an inviting substitute for tortilla chips, folded with pulled pork, pepper Jack cheese sauce, slaw, "onionpeno" straws and green onion.
Smokehouse Nachos at DeSoto Grill: Montana
Situated within The Forge, a Kalispell landmark built in 1910 as a blacksmith shop, DeSoto Grill is a rustic enterprise run by a husband-and-wife team. They take pride in their house-smoked meats, which are the backbone of sandwiches, platters, stuffed baked potatoes and the Smokehouse Nachos. Brisket, pulled pork or chicken is combined with sharp cheddar-Jack cheese, roasted corn and black bean salsa, red onion, cilantro, sour cream and a squirt of DeSoto Grill’s homemade BBQ sauce.
Kobe Beef Nachos at Tavern 180: Nebraska
When in Omaha, one is never far from a good steak. Capturing the city's predilection for beef are Tavern 180's Kobe beef brisket nachos. At this West Omaha hot spot with iPad menus and edamame-and-flatbread happy hours, the well-marbled brisket is smoked for some 13 hours before it's settled atop housemade chips with cheddar, jalapeno, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream.
Lobster and Brie Nachos at Surf: New Hampshire
If they're lucky, patrons of Chef-Owner Michael Buckley's Portsmouth seafood haven Surf catch glimpses of lobster boats pulling into the restaurant with fresh catches from the Piscataqua River. This lobster is then integrated into dishes like the nachos — available at the restaurant's Nashua branch as well — with cheddar, mango salsa, jalapeno and Brie. It's an unusually petite portion, leaving ample room for maki and sashimi afterward.
Viva La Nachos at Tacoria: New Jersey
Contemporary-casual Mexican kitchen Tacoria is flourishing in the Garden State, with outposts in Montclair, New Brunswick and Princeton. The pick-a-protein menu spans golden avocado tacos, chorizo burrito boxes and the popular Viva La Nachos. Hand-cut tortilla chips are dressed with black beans, salsa, cheese, crema and meats like pollo tinga (spicy pulled chicken) or al pastor. Dessert fiends can cap off the meal with sweet nachos drizzled with Nutella.
Pit-Cooked BBQ Nachos at the Raleigh Times Bar: North Carolina
In downtown Raleigh, the Raleigh Times Bar is a vibrant hangout — sometimes buoyed by live banjo music — set in the former headquarters of its namesake newspaper. For its nachos, the bar turns to sister restaurant The Pit for some whole-hog barbecue, then meshes it with a cheddar-Jack sauce, jalapeno, cilantro, pico de gallo and guacamole.
Irish Nachos at the Blarney Stone: North Dakota
Most North Dakotans claim Scandinavian and German ancestry, but the state also boasts a sizable Irish population. Alluding to this is the Blarney Stone, a pub that was co-founded by a South Fargo High School grad and has locations in West Fargo and Bismarck. Finnegans Irish Amber goes down best with the Irish Nachos, a pileup of waffle fries, beef, chicken, melted Jack-cheddar, tomato, jalapeno and green onion. A secret sauce reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing-meets-sour cream pleasingly stands in for salsa.
Blue Cheese Potato Chip Nachos at Cap City Fine Diner and Bar: Ohio
Leaving Cap City Fine Diner and Bar — part of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants empire in Columbus, Dublin and Gahanna — without springing for a slice of its three-layer chocolate cake would be disappointing. So would not partaking in the restaurant’s uniquely Buckeye State version of nachos: a mound of potato chips smothered in blue cheese, chives and Alfredo sauce.
RedNexican Nachos at Butcher BBQ Stand: Oklahoma
Open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Butcher BBQ Stand in Wellston seduces Oklahomans from across the state with its meat plates that come with a Twinkie. The kitchen, housed in a repurposed shipping container, turns out dishes like the RedNexican Nachos. Teeming with pulled pork, chopped brisket or smoked chicken, they're jacked up by jalapeno queso, black beans, and roasted corn, bell pepper and onion, all crowned with cilantro, jalapeno and BBQ sauce. The food sells out quickly here, so arrive early.
Ultimate Nacho Platter at Brick Alley Pub: Rhode Island
In 1980, when the Brick Alley Pub opened in Newport, it was the first restaurant in the area to tantalize its guests with nachos. Little has changed. Between peeping at mansions, many Newport visitors find themselves beside locals at this icon, unwinding with a Rhode Island-brewed beer and a plate of the Ultimate Nacho Platter. Bursting with salsa, cheddar-Jack, refried beans, guacamole and sour cream, it’s a satiating way to refuel before hitting the Cliff Walk.
Hickory-Hoisin Beef Nachos at Bone-In Barbeque: South Carolina
Scott Hall, chef of Bone-In-BBQ in Columbia’s up-and-coming BullStreet District, imbues his recipes with whimsy. There’s the bacon-wrapped mac and cheese, for instance, and the fried chicken and waffle club sandwich. His nachos, Bone Chips, get the same treatment: Hickory-hoisin smoked beef brisket, melted pimento cheese and pickled onion are gussied up with blue-cheese crumble, banana peppers, crispy fried onion and scallions.
Ranch Nachos at OverTime Sports Grill & Bar: South Dakota
South Dakotans have an affinity for ranch dressing, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the ingredients in the nachos served at OverTime Sports Grill & Bar in Sioux Falls. The creamy condiment is bolstered by hunks of baked chicken breast, crunchy bacon, cheese, green onion and tomato. Beyond watching the game on $5 Tuesdays, it’s another reason to drop by.
Pulled Pork BBQ Nachos at Central BBQ: Tennessee
One of the biggest attractions in Memphis, right up there with Graceland, is the city’s top-notch barbecue. Central BBQ, which has downtown, midtown and east locations, is one of the most-desirable destinations for brisket, dry-rub ribs and pulled pork nachos. The latter, with BBQ sauce, cheese sauce, shredded cheese and jalapeno, are dusted with Central’s proprietary BBQ Shake seasoning.
Tex-Mex BBQ Nachos at The Pigpen: Texas
Delicious Mexican food is savored all over San Antonio. For nachos, though, one of the city’s most-satisfying recipes is found at The Pigpen, the relaxing bar behind its sibling establishment, Smoke Shack BBQ. An ode to the Lone Star State’s renowned Tex-Mex and BBQ cuisines, these best-selling nachos feature Smoke Shack’s slow-cooked brisket fused with queso, pico de gallo and guacamole. Order a frozen margarita or two and stick around for the 9 p.m. happy hour.
Tempura-Fried Lobster Nachos at Mojo Cafe: Vermont
Mojo Cafe' s Tex-Mex menu takes imaginative Cajun turns, such as crawfish bread and beef-and-andouille meatloaf. The Ludlow restaurant uses as many local ingredients as possible, giving the lime tempura-fried Maine Fair Trade Lobster nachos a distinct Vermont flair. Blue- and white-corn tortilla chips from Warren-based All Souls Tortilleria are fried in-house, topped with hydroponic tomatoes and with Cabot Jack and Plymouth cheddar cheeses, and complemented by pickled red onion, cilantro, scallion and pico de gallo. A rush of heat comes courtesy of the smoked jalapeno cream and the pickled Fresno and serrano chiles.
Smoked Pork Nachos with Beer Cheese at Hops Kitchen: Virginia
In a historic Waynesboro building that once produced iron stoves and brass candlesticks, the globally influenced Hops Kitchen and Basic City Beer Co. now churn out pub food and craft beer. The kitchen turns to the taproom to amp up its recipes, and the smoked pork nachos are a genius example of this culinary collaboration. They embrace a trio of different brews: The 6th Lord IPA for the beer cheese, Oopsproch lager for the bacon jam, and Bask DIPA for the beer-battered crispy jalapeno peppers.
Braised Short Rib Nachos at Thunderbird Taco: West Virginia
Small, arty Lewisburg has an offbeat food scene that includes places like Thunderbird Taco. Decked out in skateboards, this cheerful restaurant run by husband-and-wife team Melvin and Margaret Dolan sources ingredients from local producers, including a several-hundred-acre farm homesteaded by Margaret’s grandmother. That’s where the beef comes from for the special of braised short rib nachos with cheese, corn salsa, pickled onion, jalapeno and sour cream, an alluring addition to a regular roster that includes ancho sweet potato and chile-lime tofu tacos.
Bratwurst Nachos at Drink Wisconsibly Pub & Grub: Wisconsin
There's a slew of apparel and drinkware brandishing the slogan Drink Wisconsibly, and that go-local mission is also top of mind at the affiliated Milwaukee bar of the same name. The menu at Drink Wisconsibly Pub & Grub is small but devoted to Badger State delicacies, including Bavarian pretzels, fried cheese curds and Wiscanchos. In this nacho interpretation, housemade potato chips are topped with brats, pork belly, bacon, beer cheese sauce and jalapeno. A Wisconsin-style brandy old fashioned is a must for the nightcap.
Beef Chili Nachos at Chugwater Soda Fountain: Wyoming
The Chugwater Soda Fountain is Wyoming’s oldest in operation, housed in a building that traces its roots to 1914. Burgers and blackberry malts are up for grabs at the kitschy eatery’s red-and-white-checked tables, but the specialty that keeps locals coming back is the Chugwater Chili, ground beef infused with an award-winning, secret seasoning recipe. It shines in the straightforward nachos with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, black olive, onion, jalapeno and sour cream.