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Oct 7, 2012 07:36 PM

Nacho Recommendations?

Yes, it may be lowbrow, and no, it's not pakalolo talking, but I had some mediocre nachos tonight--venue withheld--and so I'm curious: Who puts out really good nachos locally?

You better specify what makes them really good, too. Meat? Seasoning? Multi-layeredness? Quality of chips or cheese? Value? Volume? Guacamole you'd eat off your own toes? The service (no kidding, some of the best nachos I've had were the result of the server at Boundary Bay asking me if he might "re-cheese" our plate)? I'm even happy accepting ethnic variants, like the Viking Tavern's Nordic Nachos.

Mahalo-Gracias Nui Loa,

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  1. I'm a sucker for the nachos at West 5, especially at the happy-hour price of $6 for a large order, which is large enough for two people to decide to skip dinner in my experience.

    The key thing is the layering. Cheeses (multiple real cheeses, none of them "cheese sauce") and whatnot permeate the chip-mound, rather than simply forming a shell over a bolus of dry, virgin chips (which is usually what you get with real cheese without a little care.) The accompanying salsa is also tasty - however the optional guac at $1 extra is a sucker's bet, not worth it.

    I would love it if some place served some classic "Nachos especiales" - a single layer of chips topped with grated cheddar cheese and 1 jalapeño slice per chip, fired under a salamander. I haven't seen an old-school prep like that in several decades.

    3 Replies
    1. re: terrier

      Laredos Grill does a version of those that is good. They call them Panchos and are individual chips topped with beans, cheese, sour cream and a slice of jalapeno.

      1. re: terrier

        Hi, terrier:

        Wahine and I *finally* made it to West 5 today, after having planned to go a bunch of times on your rec. Interesting place, and with a definite *sense* of place in West Seattle.

        We had the large order and added the guacamole--more than enough for 2. Our serving was not quite as layered as I think you meant, but there was effort made not to just pile everything on top. There was a good mix of cheeses, and today's included some dry cotija, which was really cool. The guac was very good in every way, and the salsa was excellent and deeply-flavored; in fact, the salsa was a chipotle+garlic bomb (for those who don't like garlic as much as we do, watch out).

        I think what makes West 5's nachos somewhat unique is the sweet black bean and corn compote slathered on top. I liked it very much, but while savory, it was completely bereft of heat (as was the salsa). And the corn kernels bespoke of lingering long in the Cambro before meeting their cousins the chips--I finish my steers on corn, and the kernels looked like they look after... My final, minor criticism is that the chips were obviously from a bag.

        But these were good nachos for my tastes. If the corn and chips had been fresh, and had there been some heat somewhere within reach, they would've rated great.

        I would go back and order these again. Thanks for your recommendation.


        1. re: kaleokahu

          Happy to be of service - your points are all spot-on. I wish they at least optionally provided a means to spice up the nachos, and I wish they used fresh chips. Over the years, I've probably had those nachos 40 times - chip freshness has been the main variable (they're never spicy, alas.)

      2. I enjoy the nachos at Nickerson Street Saloon in Fremont. They use freshly made chips, use lots of grated, melted cheddar, seasoned black beans, jalapenos, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream. It's your basic huge pile of nachos but the high quality of the chips elevates them over others.

        I also have to give props to some non-traditional nachos I had at Bitterroot in Ballard. Theirs are topped with smoked, pulled pork, carmelized onions, cheese and BBQ sauce. Trust me, it all works together wonderfully.

        1. Peso's on lower Queen Anne....seriously. One of the only places I've tried in town that solves the dry chip mound, "too much 'na', and not enough 'cho' " problem you get at a lot of places. The happy hour version of their nachos is actually the perfect portion for one person and every chip has some goodness on it. The only issue is that Peso's can be a bit tedious to deal with. Go at off times, such as lunch, or early on weekday nights, and you'll be fine...Friday/Saturdays...stay away.

          1. Rancho Bravo is my fave. Freakishly good fresh made chips. Sub guack (also made in house) for meat for free. Or get chorizo and its like upscale Taco Bell. If you love nachos - eat these at least once. (Also this place used to be a KFC so not a sit down date night spot)

            1. I love the nachos at The Ronoake. They are baked almost in a circular shape, with chips layered with cheese and salsa in the middle. Nice mounds of sour cream dot the top with jalapeños and black olives. I love the bits cheese that are crispy from the oven and then perfectly melted everywhere else. I usually get mine with chicken and honestly, never tried their guac. The small is plenty for two people. The chips are your average ground chips but I think it's the oven time that makes them so darn good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: amyh18

                Hi, Amy:

                Returned to the ivy-overrun Roanoake (Tav, not the Roadhouse) this week after at least a 20-yr. hiatus on your rec. Thanks.

                Your description is spot-on. The large serving was too much for two people. The multi-layerdness was really nice, at least until the lower layers congealed (we were stuffed well before this happened). Layering them this way does result in crispier cheese--more flavor without the semblance of pump-cheese that a lot of places deliver. But when the cheese binds, it's a semi-solid mass.

                The only weird thing was that their canned jalapeños were completely Scoville-Heat-Unit-Free. That and the very odd and uncomfortable highstool/lowtable seating.

                Good nachos. Thanks again.