Wednesday, August 31, 2011

La Cueva (Saratoga, CA): Nachos with Carnitas

Ah yes, back in the nacho groove after a 2 week hiatus (too busy one week, vacationing in the Sierras the next)!

Legend has it (read: I heard from my friend, Ann) that this restaurant, under a different name, used to be a fish and chips joint with bad service and mediocre food.  Next, it was a taqueria run by the same guy who owned the fish and chips place (kind of a leap, don't you think?).  Thankfully, in it's latest incarnation, this restaurant serves very good food, including this nice serving of Nachos.  I went with carnitas instead of chicken this time because their only choice is grilled chicken, which I'm pretty much done with at this point unless there are no good alternatives.  I'm really glad that my first plate of nachos after a 2 week break was tasty, nice to look at, and not too expensive.  What a disappointment a crappy plate of my favorite food would have been after such a tortuously long wait! 
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: Decent chips, refired beans, good carnitas, pico de gallo and  nicely presented sour cream and guacamole with lots of actual avocado in it plus tender pork made these a pleasure to eat!  Great combined with their excellent green salsa, too.
Map to Location:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My First Ever Home Made Shredded Chicken

Obviously, I will, at some point either run out of taquerias to eat at or run out of money to support my nacho "habit".  The latter is the most likely scenario.  So what do I do?  Learn to make my own taqueria-style nachos, of course!  The first and most crucial step?  Learn to cook the meat.

This was my first ever attempt at Mexican-style shredded chicken and it came out pretty darn well:

A bit too salty, but I think that can be remedied pretty easily.  I'm pretty surprised at how long it takes to make, too.  Just under 2 hours, with 1 ½ hours of that being simmering the chicken (1 hour simmering the chicken before shredding it, 30 minutes after).  I happened to have roasted and peeled some Anaheim peppers yesterday because they were about to go bad and I added those to the mix.  Great addition!
Rating (Chicken only): 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Too salty.  And I thought I'd never say this, but thank you, Emeril Legassi (you obnoxious egomaniac) for your chicken nachos the recipe that I used as a basis for this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taqueria El Ranchito (San Jose, CA): Regular Nachos with Chicken

After the disappointment you may have detected in my last post on Taqueria Vallarta's nachos with chili verde, I really needed something great, so a few coworkers and I cruised over to this brand new taqueria with high hopes.  The reviews on Yelp were decent, so why not take a chance?  (That will be the only question in this post - I promise ;-).  Overall, a good plate.  The chicken could have used a bit more flavor, but the texture was just right and the balance of ingredients was perfect.  The guacamole was tasty too - not nearly as radioactive looking as it appears in the photo.  Very crispy, light chips to scoop it all up with.  The downsides to this place had nothing to do with the nachos.  They were stingy on the chips and they didn't have a salsa bar (gasp!) which was a damn shame because the red salsa they gave us with the chips was excellent.  For this last reason, I won't be going back, but that didn't stop me from giving them a decent rating on their nachos.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Nice presentation!  Also, half way through my nachos, I realized that they'd only charged me for a "Small" nachos with no meat.  I felt a little guilty about it, but no salsa bar and one tiny bowl of chips for 4 people?  Come on.
Map to Location:

Taqueria Vallarta (Santa Cruz - Pacific Ave, CA): Chili Verde Regular Nachos

Why am I doing another post for Taqueria Vallarta?  Why not?  Why hadn't I ever tried their chili verde on nachos before?  Why switch to chili verde when the chicken is so good?  What was I thinking?  Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?  Then why doesn't the chili verde compare in flavor to the chicken?  What does a pile of my favorite chips plus cheese, pork, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo bring to my life?  You don't know by now?  Then why do you think I'm smiling?
What is the Rating?: 3 out of 5
Why?:  Good overall, but way to much cheese and not enough chips
Where is it?: