You know nachos. It's the snack you impulsively consume at baseball games, bowling alleys, after-work happy hours, fast-food drive-thrus, and other places where healthy eating resolutions go to die.
In the great pantheon of unpretentious Mexican American snack foods, nachos are king, even spawning their own category of highly processed foodstuff — nacho cheese sauce — that you can purchase in giant shelf-stable cans, or furiously pump out of plastic dispensers inside fluorescent-lit convenience stores, lathering small mountains of crusty tortilla chips with the bright orange liquid gold.
The story of nachos is a mother-of-invention tale born in the borderlands, a happy accident created by a man named Ignacio, aka Nacho — in Mexico, Nacho is the inevitable nickname given to anyone christened Ignacio at birth. As the legend goes, Ignacio Anaya was the maître d’ at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico, in the 1940s, when a group of hungry army wives from just across the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, began to crowd the dining room. With the chef nowhere in sight, Ignacio threw together a simple yet heavenly canapé for the hungry ladies: tortilla chips covered with melted cheddar cheese and garnished with jalapeño rounds.
Nachos have come a long way since Ignacio threw that first legendary tray together, and today you can find them just about everywhere, from Super Bowl buffet tables in Wisconsin to high-toned restaurant versions in cities like New York, where you'll find them made with toppings like cochinita pibil and even caviar.
Here in the Valley, you can even feast on nachos early in the a.m., if you make your way to Daily Dose, the stylish breakfast and lunch spot with locations in Old Town Scottsdale and Central Phoenix. The breakfast nachos are a house specialty dish at Daily Dose, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink a.m. gut bomb that features traditional Mexican breakfast staples like chorizo and eggs.
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The dish begins with a heap of thin, nearly translucent tortilla chips, glued together by a sticky nucleus of cheese, then topped with chorizo, scrambled eggs, tomatillo salsa, a red chili sauce, pico de gallo, and jalapeños. The oversize nacho platter, which can easily feed two, is shellacked with a gravy-like blend of mozzarella and cheddar-jack cheese and delivered with a side ramekin of sausage gravy.
The dish is pure, unapologetic junk food; the ingredient list alone may tempt you to pop a couple of antacids before diving in. But there's no need. The chorizo lacks the signature vinegary kick of the traditional Mexican variety, and the cheese blend leans toward being bland and slightly grainy. The sausage gravy, too, is somewhat flat and underwhelming. Call it a bum batch, or maybe nachos shine best outside of the breakfast hours. Either way, the dish will no doubt satiate any early morning cravings for unadulterated fat and salt.
And although these nachos may not be the ones of your Velveeta-inspired dreams, they are still extravagantly indulgent, the kind of thing your parents would never have let you eaten for breakfast when you were a kid, and that your primary-care physician would strongly advise against you eating as an adult. Breakfast nachos, in other words, are pure guilty pleasure.