Nachos are the ultimate appetizer. Meat, cheese, veggies, creams, sauces — what could be better? But we’re not talking about ballpark or gas station nachos (which are still good), or chips under shredded cheese microwaved at home (also still good). We’re talking about a nacho dish perfectly crafted by restaurant experts, landing it on this all-star list.
Just be sure to share these dishes with the right person — you don’t want any date hogging all the fully loaded nachos.
Cocina 10308 North Second Avenue
Let it be known here: The I-10 Nachos made at Cocina 10, the Mexican kitchen inside Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix, are flawless. Nachos, of course, suffer a reputation for being a lowbrow snack food, the sort of thing enjoyed at bowling alleys and baseball stadiums. But that doesn't mean nachos aren't delicious. The I-10 Nachos elevate the humble snack food to new heights. This is a carefully engineered nacho plate, made with a sturdy, crunchy base of tortilla chips, layered with refried pinto beans, and then generously lubricated with Tillamook sharp cheddar and Oaxaca cheese. The whole thing is baked into one delicious unit, then topped with fresh guacamole, scatterings of cilantro and cotija, and given a final blessing — a dollop of sour cream. As far as nachos go, the I-10 Nachos are perfection.
AZ887353 East Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale
AZ88 is known for martinis so big you can take a dip, and with such a reputation, there had better be some good drunk munchies on the menu. Seeing how nachos are the ultimate drunk food, AZ88's Hell's Fire Chips are the perfect option to satisfy your mid-martini cravings. Think of them as a classed-up version of the old Velveeta fare. Crispy homemade potato chips are sprinkled with a bit of salt and topped with pungent bleu cheese crumbles. Then those nachos (chips plus cheese equals nachos, any way you cut it) are liberally doused in scorching AZ Gunslinger hot sauce. Speaking from experience, you might want to ask for a bottle of the Gunslinger on the side to further dress your chips 'n' cheese. The vinegar and jalapeño kick cuts through the distinctive bleu cheese flavor. In fact, give us a double order.
Verdura5555 North Seventh Street, #108
Verdura has been busy putting out top-notch, plant-based food in their vinyl-themed restaurant. But beyond the dedicated owners, cool dining space, and on-point playlist, the food is what will keep customers coming back — and a heavy hitter is the carne asada nachos. The seitan may look almost spongy atop the chip heap, but they are anything but a sad substitute. The chunks of wheat gluten are savory, well-seasoned, and could be eaten alone. But then you’d be ignoring the crunchy tortilla chips, fresh jalapeño slices, pico de gallo, chimichurri, black olives, and black beans. The pile is made malleable thanks to drizzled-on queso, creamy Verdura sauce, and some of the best guacamole you may have ever tasted.
Four Peaks Brewing Co.1340 East Eighth Street, #104, Tempe
You're going to need at least four people for this mountain of cheesy chips. The Four Peaks nacho plate, a gargantuan pile of red, blue, and white chips, is meant for sharing and topped with no less than what seems like a pound of cheddar. These guys come out with all the fixings on the side, including black bean dip, olives, tomatoes, and pickled jalapeños. And you’re free to add chicken, spicy beef, adovada, and green chile pork. Plus, you get to enjoy them with a fresh Hop Knot or Kitlifter.
BLISS / reBAR901 North Fourth Street
The chefs at Bliss have an amazing ability to elevate restaurant staples to five-star greatness. We once reported how a burger at the downtown bar and restaurant was so good that we used the memory of eating it to get over a bad day. The Vintage Nachos get the same treatment. Bliss makes its own flour tortilla chips as well as rich, gooey cheese sauce, which combine with beef so tender that it falls apart. Or you could opt for diced grilled chicken or braised pork. With pickled jalapenos and tomatoes along with strips of red cabbage to round out the experience, it's blissful.
Huss Brewing Co.Multiple Locations
Nachos and beer? Cool. Nachos with beer? Even better. The “Almost Famous” Black Bean Nachos at Huss Brewing Co. are a winner. The'yre a pile of crispy tortilla chips topped with “magic” beer cheese — i.e. nacho cheese sauce made with Huss‘ Magic in the Ivy IPA. There are also black beans, made and braised in-house, as well as corn relish, cotija cheese, tomatoes, cilantro, and salsa. But there’s one more “magic” ingredient: lime crème. Huss uses a lime cream with its nachos instead of sour cream, meaning the chips at the bottom don’t get all that soggy.
The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen26 South Farmer Avenue, Tempe
What separates The Lodge's nachos from the rest? It's all in the cheese. You won't find any half-melted, shredded, cheap mild cheddar on these babies, just lots and lots of cheese sauce. They also pile these suckers high with black beans and tomatoes, generous portions of sour cream and fresh guac, and plenty of thinly sliced fresh jalapeños instead of those gnarly pickled grayish green ones. Need more weight? You can add steak, pulled pork, chicken, or house chili. And the name of this Lodge signature item? The Nacho Mountain.
Los TaquitosMultiple Locations
Established in 1981, the four Valley locations of Los Taquitos offer a level of quality surprising for a fast-casual Mexican restaurant. Propelled by generations-old family recipes, Los Taquitos' menu lists some next-level items (that shrimp burrito), but even the chips offer the perfect restaurant-grade crispiness, crunchiness, and saltiness. And they're not too thin, either. This is why the Super Nachos are on the menu's list of specials. Think crispy, salty chips topped high with, say, carnitas, plus pico, sour cream, guac, and shredded cheese. These aren't goopy ballpark nachos, but more a medley of some of Los Taquitos' best menu items.
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Urban Margarita6685 West Beardsley Road, Glendale
There’s no shortage of places to get nachos in the northwest Valley, and Urban Margarita is a great one. The appetizer section of the downright provoking menu lists what you’re looking for: hatch green chile nachos. Picture crunchy tortilla chips loaded with shredded pork, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo. The result is a heavy platter weighed down with a colorful pile of nachos. And best of all, you’ll have first ordered Urban Margarita’s popular Smokey and the Bandito margarita.
Murphy's Law58 South San Marcos Place, Chandler
An Irish pub probably isn't the first place you think of when you think nachos, but Murphy's Law in downtown Chandler serves one heavy hitter. For a non-traditional option (because every day is St. Patrick's Day, right?), try the decadently savory Irish Nachos For One: Murphy’s own pub chips loaded with Murphy’s cheese sauce, then topped with corned beef and sprinkled with green onions. The whole thing’s served in a skillet, and yes, it does go well with Guinness. And lucky for you, these nachos are on the happy hour menu, which is 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on November 7, 2011. It was updated on November 6, 2019. Amy Silverman contributed to this article.