Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mi Chalateca Pupuseria (San Jose, CA): Chicken Nachos

Ok.  This is really a shame.  I broke one of the first rules of memory card handling when I yanked the Micro SD out of my phone without turning it off first.  As you can see - a pretty much unusable photo, but I guess it's better than nothing?
In any case, This was one of the best plates of nachos that I've eaten in a while.  Surprising, considering that the chicken was grilled, but they grilled it in such a way as to avoid the usual dryness and blandness.  Also - and I don't know why I never thought of doing this - they chopped up the marinated jalapenos, carrots, and onions that you usually get at the salsa bar, and included them as a topping.  Another thing they did right? Evenly distributed ingredients instead of a pile of chicken here, a blob of guacamole there, and a pile of pico de gallo over there.  I was also glad that they used different chips for the nachos than the el-cheapo ones they brought to the table with salsa (the round kind that are 3 bucks a pound at your local grocery store).
The downside to this dining experience?  A speaker, placed directly above our table and pointed in my general direction, endlessly and mercilessly pumped out loud Mexi-pop (?) music, making us have to lean in and yell at each other to have anything resembling a  conversation. Hate that - dining is supposed to be a social experience, not a club/bar scene!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: a great mix of ingredients, evenly distributed.  The jalapenos, carrots, and onions really set things off.  A light sprinkle of unmelted cheese was a nice touch.  Take this plate, thrown in chicken from Angel's Rock House and Chips from Two Pesos and we would have had a 5!
Additional Notes:  This place has a really diverse Mexican/Salvadorian menu.  Definitely have to return here to try some of their other dishes!  Portions run relatively small.
Map to Location:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bonus Post: Howard Cosell and Nachos!

As it turns out, Howard Cosell is one of the people we have to thank for popularizing nachos, even those made with "plastic" nacho cheese.  How?  By the time the famed sports commentator was on the air, nachos had become a popular specialty in restaurants across Texas, but were virtually unknown across the rest of the country.  One day in 1977 at Arlington Stadium in Arlington Texas, a concessionaire named Frank Liberto decided to try to sell nachos at his stand  To make things more time and cost-effective, he allegedly reformulated the cheese to be soft all the time.  At first, sales were moderate at best, but what really made things take off was a visit by Monday Night Football later that year.  Before the game started they were offering the plastic cheese nachos in the reception area where Howard Cosell came in and he liked the name "nachos".  That night and for a while after, Cosell and the rest of the “Monday Night Football” broadcast team worked the word "nacho" and the product itself into their banter.  The popularity of nachos grew exponentially thereafter!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

La Victoria Taqueria (San Jose, CA): Super Nachos with Chicken

Nachos as they came from the kitchen...
This is another taqueria that I'd had a number of people suggest to me, so I definitely had high hopes for this plate (basket?) of nachos.  I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't exactly thrilled either.
The Bad:
- Stale chips
- Small portion of very thin guacamole
- Liquid nacho cheese
The good:
- Excellent Chicken
- Excellent Green salsa (I added this myself)
...and nachos slathered in "Orange Sauce" 
The really good:
- An unlimited supply of La Vic's famous "Orange Sauce", which I of course had to slather the nachos in!
All in all, probably the best "plastic cheese" nachos that I've had, but what a disappointment to not have real melted cheese with that great chicken!  It occurred to me that with the exception of the chicken, there is no cooking at all involved in the assembly of this batch of nachos.  Someone call the authenticity police!
Check out the pretty tiles on the booth benches!  I wish the comfort of the benches matched the beauty...
Rating: 3 out of 5
Rating Notes: Excellent chicken. Orange Sauce is as good as everyone says it is, if not a bit too spicy for me. They really could do better on the chips.
Map to Location:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Today is The International Day of the Nacho! (10/21/2011)

October 21st!  The International Day of the Nacho!  This holiday was created in 1995 to celebrate one of the greatest foods ever.  Thought you needed an excuse to eat this delectable, high-calorie food?  Well this is it!  So go out and get yourself some nachos today!  Here are a couple related pages for you to check out:
International Day of the Nacho on Facebook
NachosNY International Day of the Nacho Article

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two Pesos Taqueria (Los Gatos, CA): Chicken Nachos

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
I like to eat nachos...
...and I'll have a plate or three!

Well, maybe not of these ones.  I had to work on my birthday (38th, if you must know), which goes against the policy that I've been trying to hold to.  No one should ever work on their birthday and it should be a paid day off!  In any case, trying to make the best of my working birthday, I headed over to a new taqueria with a friend for a plate of nachos.
I'm going to keep it brief, because it just added to the bummer of having to work on my birthday:
>Chicken - poor
>Guacamole - not enough
>Sour Cream - nifty stripes, but not enough
>Pinto Beans - meh
On the upside:
>Great, home-made fried tortilla chips (competitive with my favorite ones from Taqueria Vallarta)
>Nice talking to my friend, Ann while having lunch
I really wish that these nachos had, per the name of this taqueria, only cost 2 pesos...

Rating: 2½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Chicken texture was ok, but I couldn't decide whether it was grilled or boiled and then grilled.  It basically tasted like plain chicken plus a healthy dose of char from the grill.  If not for those chips, this would have been a 2.
Map to Location:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bonus Post: World's LARGEST Nachos! Awesome!

BILLERICA, Mass., USA -- The Ninety Nine Restaurant in Billerica, north of Boston, celebrated the return of nachos to the menu by creating a 3,999-pound serving nachos - which sets the new world record for the Largest nachos, according to World Records Academy (

The previous Guinness world record for the
largest serving of nachos weighed 1,613.12 kg (3,556 lb 4 oz) and was made by a team led by Lolly Ahlgrim at Northstar Church in Frisco, Texas, USA.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taqueria Los Dos Compadres (Campbell, CA): Super Nachos with Chicken

Situated right next door to TGI Sushi (yum!) in Campbell, this taqueria was apparently started by a couple of friends from Mexico (kinda reminds me of those pizza joints called "2 Guys from Italy").  This is the first place I've gone on my Nacho Quest that calls itself a taqueria but has a waitress serve you.  Maybe they wanted the extra money for tips or something?  In any case, let's get to the nachos.  Great home-made chips (maybe second only to Taqueria Vallarta's?), a small layer of refried beans, and a heap of really good shredded chicken, monterey jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, and jalapenos made for a very satisfying, flavorful lunch.  The portion was large enough that I didn't finish them all, either.   But, just when I thought everything was going well... Chicken McKnuckle!  For those of you who haven't heard me use this expression before, it refers to the dreaded piece of cartilage or bone in the chicken you're eating that gives you a rude textural awakening and makes you grab a napkin and disgustingly spit it out of your mouth.  This happened to me not once, but twice during this meal, and I'm pretty sure I grossed out the young couple at the next table.  Surprising, considering the quality of the ingredients.  Other than that, I did enjoy my nacho experience here.  See "Bonus Bloggage" below for reasons that I'd return to Los Dos Compadres...

Rating: 3 out of 4
Rating notes:  Watered-down guacamole and the Chicken McKnuckles cost this otherwise tasty batch a point.  Because I also had to tip a waitress and the cost of the soda was a bit steep, this ended up being a much more expensive lunch than I'd bargained for.
Map to Location:

Although the score for the nachos was relatively low, I might come back to this place in the future for 4 reasons:
1. This taqueria has a wide selection of seafood dishes that looked really good (maybe I should attempt to order shrimp nachos next time?)

2. Check out this wacky 3D under-sea (bajo el mar?) mural they had on the wall.  It's like 20 feet long!

3. While I was eating, this big, tall, long-haired Mexican guy came walking in who had the top 4 buttons of his shirt undone with his chest in full view - very tough and menacing looking indeed.  He sat down at the table behind me and started munching chips.  When the waitress walked over to him, I fully expected him to sound like that guy from the movie "Machete" when he ordered his food.  Instead, he had one of the smoothest, most friendly voices I've ever heard - I almost wanted to go say hi!

4. They have a sauce at each table called "Guacamaya".  This sauce is basically a slightly different version of Tapatio, but what a great name!  Sounds like one of those goofy word combinations that I'm always spouting off!