Monday, Nov. 6, is National Nacho Day and you know you want them. In their perfect form, there’s nothing better — crispy, warm, slightly salty chips and gooey melted cheese. You can stop there or embellish with added ingredients like sour cream and jalapenos, refried beans, onions, salsa, pulled pork, chicken, bacon... we could really keep going.
If you think about it (but not too hard) nachos are basically the perfect food. You can have it as a snack (chips + shredded cheese + microwave = glory) or bulk it up for a meal (see El Nacho Man or Loco Nachos below).
Here are some recommendations for nachos in the Columbia area and some fun facts that you can crunch while munching on the classic cheesy chips and salsa combo.
Places to go
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Yesterday’s El Nacho Man is epic. Although classified as an appetizer on the menu, El Nacho Man — with your choice of chicken ‘n’ green chilis, beef ‘n’ beans or vegetairan black bean chili and topped with cheese, black olives, scallions, lettuce and tomato with sour cream, salsa and guacamole on the side — will easily feed two or three. 2030 Devine St., www.yesterdayssc.com
Tijuana Flats has a deal on Monday: $5 nachos with the purchase of a protein item. Nacho bowls come with chips, queso, melted cheese, choice of filling, toppings, guacamole, and side of salsa. 106 Percival Rd., or 5318 Sunset Blvd in Lexington, tijuanaflats.com
Publico gives you the choice of salsa, queso or guac served with chips or the fancy Cuban nachos — black bean corn relish, pineapple, salsa verde, monterey jack cheese and fresh guac (you can even add braised chicken, pork or beef confit!). 2013 Greene St., www.publicokitchenandtap.com
Tacos Nayarit offers traditional style nachos with chips, rice, beans, your choice of meat, queso, lettuce, pico and cheese. For a little bit more, you can add more meat or queso. 1531 Percival Rd., www.facebook.com/tacosnayaritmexicangrill
Real Mexico has nachos, sure. Fresh chips served with your choice of beans, beef or chicken, topped with cheese, jalapenos and sour cream. BUT, Real Mexico also has Loco Nachos! Those are chips topped with your choice of chicken or steak and refried beans, loaded with cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, sour cream and guac. 2421 Bush River Rd., www.facebook.com/realmexico.
Did you know
▪ The story goes that, in 1943, wives of US soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan in Texas were on a shopping trip just over the border in Mexico when they ducked into a restaurant for a snack. The restaurant was closed, but the maitre d’hotel, a man called Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya went into the kitchen and invented a dish using what he had in the kitchen — tortillas and cheese. Anaya cut the tortillas into triangles and fried them, added shredded cheese, heated the chips to melt the cheese, then added sliced pickled jalapeno peppers. The dish was known as “Nacho’s especiales,” over time the name was shortened to nachos.
▪ Nacho cheese, that ubiquitous yellow cheese sauce that you find in ball parks, movie theaters, fast food restaurants and gas stations, is a form of processed cheese mixed with peppers and spices.
▪ According to Wikipedia, on April 21, 2012, the world's biggest serving of nachos was made by Centerplate at University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, United States. It weighed 4,689 lb and contained 765 pounds of nacho chips, 405 pounds of salsa, 323 pounds of tomato, 918 pounds of meat and beans, and more than 2,200 pounds of cheese.