Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cazuela's (Saratoga, CA): Chicken Nachos with Mole Sauce

Well, this is a sad story and happy story.  First the sad.  Due to some non-business-related reasons, this excellent little taqueria, a long-time standby for my nacho wing-woman, is shutting its doors this Friday (3/23/2012).  I must admit, I initially had some mixed feelings about this.  First of all, long-time fans of my blog may remember that back in  May of 2011 I went to Cazuela's and ordered chicken nachos and was given grilled chicken and "plastic" cheese, neither of which I consider to be excellent nacho ingredients.  Those nachos finished with a so-so score of 3 out of 5.  My nacho wing-woman, being a long-time fan of Cazuela's, insisted that if we went back, they could do better, with real melted cheese and better meat.  She also had the idea this time of custom-ordering the chicken with their vaunted mole sauce atop the nachos.

So what's the happy part of this story?  It was a great call!  As overall flavor goes, these are some of the best nachos I've had so far on my quest.  The mole sauce was fantastic tasting (I'm not even a big fan of mole) and had the added bonus of giving each and every chip on the plate an excellent, savory flavor.  Their spicy chipotle salsa was an excellent compliment to the overall flavor as well.

Cazuela's, you will be missed!

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: Could possibly have been the best nachos I've had yet if the chicken was cooked in the mole sauce and the chips had been the homemade fried tortilla type!
Map to location (until 3/23/2012): http://mapq.st/GCXOoH

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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

Sigh.  These look really good, right?  Wrong.
- Take Chicken breast
- Do not season
- Put in oven too long
- Shred with fork (crumble with hand?)
I do believe that's the extent of the preparation performed on this poor bird before it was scattered, albeit generously, across the top of my nachos.  What a shame, too, because these could have been awesome.  Thank goodness I didn't ask to omit the beans on these or there would've been no flavor.  So, why could they have been awesome?
Home-made, deep fried, nice and salty and served hot, straight from the fryer.  Me and my nacho wing-woman were in chips and salsa bliss while we waited for our entrees.  Plus, they were delivered to our table by a tall, handsome black man with a voice that sounded exactly like Michael Clarke Duncan (no kidding!).

Rating: 3 out of 5
Rating Notes: Would have been a 2½ because of the poorly prepared chicken, but the awesome chips saved it
Map to Location: http://mapq.st/yZehXh

Hey! That's Not'cho Shirt!

Check out what they had on shirt.woot.com today!
Yes, I bought one.  I'll post a picture of myself in it when I get it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

El Amigo Burrito (San Jose, CA): Nachos with Chicken

El Amigo Burrito, you are my friend!  Or maybe I should say that your nachos, not your burrito, is my friend?  Although, the chicken fajita burrito that my nacho wing-woman ordered looked really good, so maybe your burrito could be my friend someday?  Someday when the world runs out of nachos, when the green rivers of guacamole stop flowing the magical food that we call "cheese" is no more?  Yeah, like that'll ever happen!  Nachos will be around forever, when man no longer walks the face of this planet and the oceans run dry, there will be a plate of nachos somewhere, existing in all of its eternal glory...
This was almost that plate of nachos!

It's amazing how hit-and-miss restaurant nachos can be, despite them consistently costing more than taqueria nachos, not to mention the tip.  When I went to Mexico Lindo a few posts ago, I was soundly disappointed in the bland flavor, lack of flair, and careless assembly.  In stark contrast, the nachos at El Amigo Burrito were flavorful, thoughtfully composed, and generously piled with some of the best shredded chicken I've ever had!  Plus, have a look at the nifty educational placemat they were kind enough to include with my meal:

Anything bad about these nachos?  Well, I'm usually biased against store-bought chips and the chips here were obviously so, but being heated up actually kicked the perceived quality up a notch and made them passable.  Overall one of the better plates of nachos I've had.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: I asked them to hold the beans - good decision!  Would have been a 4½ but for the store-bought chips and one little chicken bone that almost stabbed my gums.
Map to Location: http://mapq.st/winGAE

Friday, March 2, 2012

Iguanas (San Jose): Iguanas Nachos with Chipotle Chicken

After hearing about Iguanas from friends and seeing the episode of "Man v. Food" where the host attempts to eat their 5lb "Burritozilla" (failed), I was really looking forward to these nachos and even made the trip to down town San Jose and parked in a paid garage (warning - Iguana's doesn't validate).  I ordered their "Chipotle Chicken" for my meat selection since it's their shredded chicken option.  So how were they?
Allow me start by declaring to all that as of my considerable experience up to this point, unless you're a vegetarian, beans do not belong on nachos!  They muck up the flavor of the meat and and remove all the crispiness from the chips underneath!  That was exactly the case here.  What was presumably very good chicken got lost in a sea of beans and cheese and the thin, otherwise excellent chips got totally sogged out.  Overall, a decent plate (styrofoam container?) of nachos, but could have been a lot better.

Side note:  Iguanas has 2 signature menu selections, the aforementioned "Burritozilla" and their famous "Nacho Fries".  I'd intended to mix things up a bit and get their famous Nacho Fries, but the friendly cashier told me that they were currently out of fries.  WTF?  Word of advice - if you're going to give something a big, bold title on your menu, don't run out of ingredients before the lunch rush starts!

One last thing: I'd like to thank our engineering lead, YJ, who is from China, for making the trip to the United States and giving me an excuse to eat great food with him every day!

Rating: 3 out of 5
Rating Notes: Too many beans, but good chicken and excellent salsas to add some much-needed flavor.  Lots of chopped JalapeƱos on top worked well to spice things up.
Map to Location: http://mapq.st/wYHPfa