Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NO NACHOS - Chalateco (Santa Clara, CA): Chicken Torta?? - NO NACHOS

What a disappointing Tuesday!  I was very anxious to go to Chalateco, a place that I used to go to back when I worked for RJ Associates on the Alameda.  Wouldn't it be great if this place, just a hundred yards or so from Wicked Chicken (AKA Cluck U, University Chicken, and Smoke Eaters) had good nachos?  I'd have everything I needed in a 2 block radius!

Alas, there are no nachos to be found there, period.  I even asked the ladies working there if they could just make me a plate of nachos (it's not like they don't have everything they need there to make them).  The answer was no.  Now, let's just say that they had agreed to make nachos for me?  What would have happened?

First of all, the terrible freebie chips that they gave us would have started off on the wrong foot.  Just look at these:
Coarse and rough, like corn meal put together with elmer's glue or something.  Ugh.

The chicken on my torta was very good, however and would have made for an excellent nacho meat selection.  The guacamole on my torta, which also would surely have found its way onto my nachos was also very good.

Sadly, we'll never know what could have been, and even if they do eventually serve nachos, I won't be coming back.  There are too many as yet undiscovered taquerias and restaurants to try.

Rating: 0 out of 5
Rating Notes: No nachos = no score
Map to location: http://mapq.st/OXxNVt

Monday, August 6, 2012

Vivas (Santa Cruz, CA): Nachos with Chicken

I ordinarily wouldn’t eat nachos twice a week (yes, I’m closely watching my diet lately), but my wife and I happened to be in Santa Cruz for a Friday afternoon appointment.  What better way to end a week than with a tasty plate of nachos?

Vivas is a refreshing twist on the usual taqueria.  They serve most of the same dishes as most taquerias, but their ingredients are all natural and mostly organic.  These nachos had a distinctly homemade taste to them, which in this case was quite a nice surprise.  The chicken was grilled, but served in large pieces and very well rubbed down with a great tasting spice mix.  The only gripe I had about these nachos was that they were microwaved, and, much like someone may at home, they forgot to “nuke” them long enough so the cheese wasn’t totally melted.  The price was a little dear ($8.49 + tax) but I’ll give them a pass on that for using organic ingredients.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: Could have been excellent if broiled rather than under-nuked.  Chips, although festive in their multi-colored regalia, weren’t nearly as tasty as home-fried tortillas.
Map to location: http://mapq.st/NkBxwI

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

Well, I really must’ve ordered the wrong thing at this place because most of the reviews on Yelp are very positive.  I hear they even serve chapulines (grasshoppers)!  There’s a reason that the picture for this plate of nachos is in grayscale.  They were that bland.  Kind of reminded me of Jalisco in Campbell (a taqueria that I’d actually been to several times before starting this blog, but will not return to because of their high prices and lackluster food).

I even forgot to ask for no beans, and after tasting the plate, couldn’t believe that with both chicken and beans present there was such a dearth of flavor.  Will not be returning to this place.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Rating Notes: Bland.  Lame.  Very slow service compared to most taquerias.
Map to Location: http://mapq.st/MJENT0

Dona Maria (San Jose, CA): Supreme Nachos with Shredded Chicken

Ok, this is a little weird.  I swear I did a post on this little taqueria before, and my nacho wing-woman correctly insists that we’d eaten here before.  I just can’t find it.  No matter – you’ll just have to believe us!

So, why another repeat taqueria visit, after just having re-visited Mondo Burrito the week before?  As it turns out, the last time we went to Dona Maria, I ordered chicken nachos and they came with grilled chicken.  If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I don’t particularly like grilled chicken and vastly prefer the shredded type.  We found out later that Dona Maria’s does offer shredded chicken so we decided to go back (it’s just 5 minutes from the office) and give them another chance.

How was it?  We’ll, it certainly looked nice, and all of the ingredients that I usually look for were there, but despite being tender, the shredded chicken was somewhat dry and didn’t have a lot of flavor.  I definitely preferred it over the grilled variety from last time, though, and a nacho bite topped with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a jalapeno certainly tasted good!

Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes:  Could have been a 4, but the chicken wasn’t up to the level of many other places I’ve been to.  Home made fried tortilla chips kept it “real”.
Map to Location: http://mapq.st/N9GHiz

Mondo Burrito (Santa Clara, CA): Mondo Nachos with Carnitas

So, what could make me return so soon to a taqueria at which I’d already sampled the nachos?  A “Groupon”, of course!  Half off ain’t bad and it’ll get me to most taquerias without hesitation.  That said, I returned here to buy lunch for me and my nacho wing-woman and once again I was very satisfied with the food.

The first time we came here, I requested a half-order of nachos.  I wish I’d done the same this time, but instead I got all excited and ordered “Mondo Nachos”.  HUGE helping, as you can see from the image.  And yes, I ate too much.  This time, instead of the somewhat bland “spicy” beef that I ordered last time, I got the carnitas.  Pretty solid flavor and nice and moist, although they still weren’t as good as the carnitas at Al Pastor #2.

Good stuff, and a great price with the Groupon!

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes:  Last time I gave them an extra ½ point for their unusual build-by-request setup, but this time, they have to stand on their own.  The Carnitas got them the extra ½ point this time due to good flavor and decent quality.
Map to Location: http://mapq.st/Kn1H0D