The Medicalization of the Nacho Chip: Nirvana

 

It started as an innocent drink between old friends when Meat Master found me distraught on the big city streets of Toronto (ladies, he’s a catch and a half). Then, combined with Hot & Cheesy’s outrage at Cheez Whiz-inspired nachos from The Bedford Academy and her dedication to raising awareness for social injustice (please join her anti-skateboarding gang task force) and finally, Sauce Queen’s up-for-anything attitude, bossiness and superior blogging skills (check out her future vintage blog: Syncopated Sound). Together, we became the Nacho Bullies. We are the Nacho Bullies (nearly Not-chyo-Grandma’s-Nacho-BlogTM).

The reason for my nostalgia, loyal followers, is that this is our last blog post with Sauce Queen. Which means it is probably our last blog post ever because the rest of don’t know how to use WordPress. She is crossing the pond to sit at pubs and charm British men – and maybe further her career at the same time.

Whatever, peace Rob.

In other news, Hot & Cheesy and Meat Master are planning a spin-off nacho/thriller blog series entitled: The Girl with the Nacho Tattoo….based on a true story!  Stay tuned.

Now onto the nachos:

This week our perfect-for-restaurants table of four grew to a banquet sized table of twelve.  Tagging along were McGill alumni Jeff McIntosh and Rahil Gulamhusein, future doctors Samantha Young, Peter Dixon, Madi Dennis and Robert Mitchell.

and your neighbourhood friendly gasman Leah Rose.

Meat Master selected Nirvana after I nixed his first choice Mexican Salsas because I wanted a drink. Sue me.  Unfortunately for Meat Master, despite the addition of a few more gentlemen this time round, he still had little to no say in any decisions made over the course of the evening.

The review this week was compiled by our medical leaders of tomorrow.  Simple and straight to the point.

  • Layering not good
  • Burnt chips
  • Love the jalapeños
  • Feeling the olives “there better not be a pit in that” no pit
  • Hard to integrate the nacho bites!
  • “Someone spilt salsa in the sc”
  • The chips themselves are solid
  • “I don’t hate them” – Leah
  • “The guac is a bit creamy” – Sam
  • “These nachos were nothing to write home about, but I wouldn’t kick them out of bed” – Becky
  • 2 orders not enough for 6 people. Fucked.
  • “The nachos are a metaphor for something fucked” – Rob
  • “They’re your average nachos. They aren’t claiming to be anything. And they aren’t anything ” – Ben
  • Mitchell wouldn’t eat these nachos
  • “I actually quite liked them. The chips were just the right amount of greasy”
  • “They have a nacho blog so we ate nachos”
  • “Then I ordered pad Thai”

Thanks for the flowery essay you guys.

See you on the flip side.

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The DeVille of Nachos: Cadillac Lounge

Although summer reviews have been sparse, the weather is getting cooler and we need some ‘chos to keep us warm! In this week’s edition, the team headed to the Toronto’s classic Cadillac Lounge cause we heard their nachos were bomb. After battling through some torrential rains and winds, we were ready to get acquainted with our old friend Cho.

This week, we present to you a slightly different format. In the spirit of all things “Tiger Beat”, we have opted for a join post to rate these nachos in terms of childhood crushes.

Note: all elements of the nacho experience will be rated out of a perfect score: “Devon  Sawa as a real boy in Casper ” 

Strictly Salsa & Sauce Queen
Score: Tiger Beat Issue #87 – March ’95

Presentation: Jack Kelly (Newsies) 
These nachos get extra points for being served in a sizzling pan like ol’ school 90’s fajitas. We like the throw-back (obvs) and the fact the cheese stays pretty melty the whole time. Points for originality and functionality. BOOM.


Toppings: Jack Hunter (Boy Meets World)
Tri-colour chips, jalepenos, tons of cheese, green onion, black olives make this beast a real looker. The best part? Even distribution throughout the whole dish and toppings to scrape off the plate later.


Sauces: Bailey Salinger (Party of Five)
Almost, but not quite there. Guac costs extra. While they do bring you a heaping amount of each of our favourites, they’ve got some work to do.


Beer battered chili (on the side): Andrew Keegan (In anything)
Overrated.





Atmosphere: Junior Floyd (Little Giants)

A down home old school rock and roll feel. David Bowie and old Elvis movies playing the background.  We’re sure the live Neil Young cover band would’ve been awesome if we stayed, but alas, The 
Barr Brothers were calling.

While these nachos may not be our all-time favourite. Like many of the males listed above, they are memorable and get the job done. The cream of the crop of bar nachos. The winning smile that girls swoon over. The point at which a male teen is at his peak before puberty hits. Unlike our 90’s favourites above,  Cadillac Lounge is a classic that gets better with age. Teen heartthrobs, not so much. (With the exception of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We still die for him.)

Sidenote: Meat Master is not affiliated with this post, nor would he want to be – after all, he doesn’t eat for sport.

 Cadillac Lounge is located at 1300 Queen St. W. and the Gigantic Nachos run about $12.95, for guac and chilli $2.95 extra

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Tortilla for the Win: Utopia

Sauce Queen
Score: 7

After all these weeks of debate, we finally made it happen. Yes folks, we finally went for the coveted Utopia nachos. And boy were they big. Whereas we usually get 2 for the 4 of us, we really only needed the one (fine, we may not may not have also ordered the Mumahari dip.) For those of you who aren’t familiar with the establishment, not only do they serve up some big ass nachos, but they’ve got a host of other amazingness on the menu including burgers, wraps etc. etc. making it hard to keep our eyes focused on the task at hand.

Anyhoooo, we got a nice back patio seat, and after some garnish-free ceasers and cerveza we were ready to kick it into high gear. We opted for the “Utopia Nachos” which read:

“Maybe this time we’ve gone too far! The works including grilled chicken, steak and guacamole. If you don’t like these, then you probably don’t like nachos.”

Fuck you menu writer! Is that a threat? Don’t you know who we are? You’re going dowwwn! Bitch please! (sorry, we took that one a little too far.) These bitches came piled high and topped with a blend of cheeses, salsa, jalepeno peppers, white beans, corn, sour cream, chicken AND steak.

Even though these ‘chos seem to have ALL the works, something seemed to be missing…..we liked em, but I doubt they’ll make the “best of” list when we get around to it.

Strictly Salsa
Score: 7.25

Despite their reputation, Utopia’s nachos failed to impress. Us bullies determined that it was the lack of layering with which we had the most beef, followed by lack of cheese as a close second (I actually don’t know if anyone else had a problem with the cheese, but Hot and Cheesy specifically turned to me after the meal and sternly told me to comment on the lack of cheese – so there ya go). 

I’ll give Utopia points for effort though. The menu says that they give us the “works” and I think they live up to that – (Side note – did you know that jalapeño chili peppers are fruit? Take that, trivia night!)

I digress. In terms of sauces, we were given a measly bowl of sour cream and guacamole each – which was not enough for four experienced nacho-ers to share. I guess we could have asked for more. Eh. The salsa was given in a larger bowl – though DEFINITELY not large enough. Luckily we also ordered some naan and Mumahari dip (whatever guys, we were hungry, okay?) so we used the excess Muma dip for the chips. That was cool.

Oh yeah, the best part of the nachos (from the girls’ perspective because the Meat Master had already reached his “I-don’t-eat-for-sport” quotient) was at the very bottom. The nachos were prepared on a large fajita (was it a fajita even? I don’t know). Anyways, so the bottom layer was this grilled fajita which some cheese had melted onto. It was tasty. I like the texture of fajitas especially when you roll them up. (Editor’s Note: This bitch clearly doesn’t know her ass from her foot cause this “fajita” she speaks of is actually a tortilla shell.)

Utopia is located at 586 College St. and the Utopia nachos go for $15.00

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Cinco De Mayo w/ a side of Cactus: Rancho Relaxo

Hola mi nacho amigos y felices Cinco De Mayo!!!
Can anyone else think of a better way to celebrate the most holy days than with your beloved Nacho Bullies? 

Meat Master
Score: 6.5

The Nacho Bullies are officially back on the block! We hope you haven’t gotten too comfortable, because in true bully fashion, we’re here to rough up the world of nachos.

Obviously, we had to launch our reunification on the mother of all mexi-holidays. Its Cinco De Mayo bitches so those mouths better be watering for some dirty tequila and cheesy goodness. The host of our festivities was Rancho Relaxo (College & Spadina)which lived up to its Mexican roots on too many accounts. Between the mariachi music, colorful table settings and some tacky snake skin covered speakers, the authentic authentic Mexican vibe was a in the air.

The nacho platter was just as you would think it would be from a place called “Relaxo” (excuse our lack of photography this week.) They weren’t mind blowing hit a lot of the key criteria. We opted for the “Nachos Con Napoles”, which hosted a nice amount  of toppings, highlighted by the never-before seen or tasted cactus (don’t worry we’ll tell ya more about the cactus later.) The chips had a nice crunch, there was a nice glob (professional term) of guac on top and when we asked for extra chips and salsa we got them free of charge with no questions asked. Always straight classy.

Despite the pain in my stomach from eating too much again (Insert Sauce Queen comment: even though Meat Master claims to not for sport? A little contradictory M2…) this nacho platter lived up to its “Relaxo” name. — I give them a coooool and chilllled 6.5 out of 10.

Hot & Cheesy
Score: 7.5

I admit, in the past I may have been a lot harder on Rancho Relaxo’s nachos but, as they say, you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.  So I’ve decided to be the Paula Abdul of this nacho blog. The final verdict on Rancho’s nachos was ‘messy but flavourful’.  Oh brother, were they ever sloppy.  They took a page out of Sneaky Dees’ book and poured a whole lot of guacamole all over the nachos.   The old me would have turned into my gremlin alter ego over this.  I like my sauces on the side…so sue me! But the new me thought: well, hey, this guac is pretty good – I wouldn’t want to go against it in a guac off.  

Cheese factor: comme ci, comme ça.  Hot factor: quite poor (I can’t Abdul my way out of this).  However, the lack of jalapenos was countered by the presence of ‘nopales’ meaning cactus. Cactus on nachos you might be wondering to yourself right now? So were we! Turns out they’re a nice treat, although the team was somewhat divided. Sauce Queen had a few cactus stragglers on her plate, but the rest of us snatched up our leftovers in no time (Aren’t we a good team?).  The taste you ask? Quite prickly  pickly actually.  I am not normally fond of pickles and certainly not on my nachos!  But these nopales added a little je ne sais quoi to the nacho dish. 

Despite the nopales, and the fact that I’m Paula Abdul, I’d say these nachos would only get a 7/10.   However, the kitschy Mexican decoration may boost that rating to a 7.5.   Not the worst of what I’ve had…for some reason, I still find the Sneaky Dees nachos to be the Nickelback of this nacho blog – a.k.a. THE WORST.  I have been told by the other Nacho Bullies that I am quite wrong about this so maybe I should give Sneaky Dees another try.   Seems like something Paula Abdul would do (my new motto:  W.W.P.D. – what would paul do).
Nachos Con Napoles goes for $9.95, Rancho Relaxo is at 300 College St. W and open 5 – 10 p.m. daily

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In the Spirit of St. Patty’s Day – Irish Potato Nachos

Strictly Salsa
Score: 8.8

I’ll be the first to admit that I was getting super sick of nachos. Two weeks ago, I was dreading our fourth nacho week in a row. But after the much needed nacho hiatus, in combination with the wicked Irish Nacho reintroduction, I have been revitalized. A new nacho woman you may even say. That’s right – Irish Potato Nachos officially renewed my faith.

Located at 213 Church St., this tiny little shop has a real personality. With only two bar stools inside, take-out is really your best bet.

The owners, Patrick, the Irishman from Australia and James, the Mexican from Trinidad, are absolutely hilarious. I don’t even know if “hilarious” fully encompasses their awesomeness, but all I know is that the place simply would nothave the same energy without them. After chirping Sauce Queen for her meticulous sauce orders and deeming her “Condiment Queen” (without even knowing her Nacho Bullies alias!), they proceeded to start the cookin’. What was so cool about their approach was that they cooked all of the toppings in one pan on a stovetop, once they were nice and simmered they slowly added the cheese and then poured that entire mixture over the potatoes.

Us girls were feeling a little less gluttonous than usual, so we opted to share

El Pollo Loco, $7.95 – Irish scalloped potatoes, seasoned chicken breast, red onions, red peppers and jalapenos, covered in metled cheese


and the Pachula Veggie Deluxe, $7.95 – Irish scalloped potatoes smothered in their own special blend of ground round, herbs and spices, red onions and red kidney beans, covered in melted cheese


We were left with the responsibility of ordering for our token male (Meat Master), since we left him out in rain to find his own way home from school. James informed us that Macho Nacho was one of the most popular, so we simply had to choose it for our most macho nacho member (although since he never finishes his dish, I’m second guessing that title.)

The Macho Nacho, $6.95 – Scalloped potatoes, topped with their seasoned ground beef chili, red kidney beans, covered in melted cheese


After snapping some photos of our new nacho friends, we returned to the casa del Hot and Cheesy to dig in.

Sauce Queen
Score: 9.0

We peeled open the paper take-out containers and it was seriously like a rainbow emerged from our boxes. Our mouths dropped and we officially decided we did not need to wait for Meat Master to arrive to dig in. I mean, nachos are time sensitive enough as it is, let alone take-out style!

So, was it the unique potato approach to this Mexican staple that made the dish so epic? Not even! Sure, it did give us some dinner table chat to discuss and you’ve gotta be a fool not to like potatoes covered in cheesy goodness, but it was the overall flavour of the dishes that really won me over. The cheese was gorgeously melted over all the dishes and there were enough jalapeños on the Veggie Deluxe to share with its jalapeño-less siblings, keeping Hot & Cheesy nice and satisfied.  The remainder of the toppings including the chicken, meat and beans had the kind of authentic flavour where you know it came from some hand-crafted recipe.

BUT, there is one stand-out point for me. As weird as it is to notice this among all the other festive flavours, and as weird as my sauce-obsession is, I wasn’t the only to notice that the sour cream had a certain je ne said quoi? I’m telling you, it was either extra sour or extra creamy or something ridiculous that really made unreal. Salsas and guac were pretty standard but the crème sour really got me.

You can tell James and Patrick don’t fuck around when it comes to their nachos and that’s just how we like it. We’ll be back to visit you soon boys.


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When Nachos Get Personal — Disgraceland

Hot & Cheesy
Score: 8.0

This week, the Nacho Bullies ventured even further west to a bar called Disgraceland (965 Bloor St W).

The night was off to a good start, for the Meat Master at least.  Not only did he get out of class early, but the bar had a disco ball and a very cute waitress from Saskatchewan.  The nachos arrived fairly quickly, though not quick enough for the starving Sauce Queen and me  (we were really in tune tonight…she even knew when I was tapping the tune of Honky Tonk Woman!)

Instead of guacamole, these nachos had an avocado cut into large pieces running in a straight line across the top, giving off a very sushi roll look.  They were a work of art.  However, these larges pieces of avocado made for a rather non-user friendly nacho.  I mean, I had to use cutlery!  Can you believe that?

OK let’s talk Hot & Cheesy.  I was immediately disappointed to see the nachos arrive with 5 thin slices of jalapeno on the side.  However, after breaking them up and spreading them out (another non-user friendly aspect), I tried the nachos…and they did not disappoint.  The corn salsa had a nice kick to it which made up for the underrepresented jalapeno.  Further, everyone seemed satisfied with the cheese situation.  Good distribution.  Good stick-to-chip factor.  Way better than that cheese sauce at Tacos El Asador (sorry but I had to say my piece since I didn’t write last week – it seems I’m the only person who was not crazy about those nachos!).

Speaking of the stick-to-chip factor, these nachos were a little problematic.  This was mainly on account of there being such a solid veggie representation (peppers, olives, etc.)  With so many veggies, there were bound to be a few to go overboard.  It was not nearly as bad as the stick-to-chip problem at Hair of the Dog (but the wonderfulness that was the Hair of the Dag chip more than made up for that!)  Speaking of the chips themselves, Disgraceland has a pretty mean chip too.

Actually, I think the general rule is that toppings don’t like to stick on triangular chips as well as they do on round chips.  And now you’re learning something new.  I’m glad we could help.  Let’s get serious for a second nacho peeps…what we’re doing here with this nacho blog is so important.  We’re helping so many people.  When you think about it, we’re really like another Salvation Army, or Red Cross.

So all in all, the night was going swimmingly….until the LAST CHIP.  Meat Master and I were splitting an order and we were down to the last chip.  I said he could have it, he said he didn’t eat for sport.  Well, I DO eat for sport so I went for it.  Cut to Meat Master knifing the chip out of my fingers and proceeding to hack it into a million little pieces…it was really symbolic because as he did it, I felt my heart break into a million little pieces.  Who does that?  Who wastes a good nacho like that?  I’m having serious concerns as to whether Meat Master really understands what this blog is about.  But rest easy, faithful Hot & Cheesy fans, I exacted swift revenge.  I salted his beer so that it tasted “like you were drunk and licked the dead sea” and I wrote his phone number on our bill, scaring our cute Saskatchewan waitress into sending someone else to our table.  Maybe I went a little too far.  But then he peppered my notebook!  Everyone knows how seriously I take my notebook.  Well I think we’re even now.  If not, if Meat Master is reading this, truce?

To summarize, level of party in my mouth: My Grade 5 Pizza-Making and Tobogganing Birthday Party – yummy food and just the right amount of hijinx.

Strictly Salsa

What she said. 

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Nachos that eat like a meal — Tacos El Asador

We’ve reached an exciting new milestone in Nacho Bullies history this week. Every so often, we’ll invite a guest blogger to share in our weekly nacho experience. In our inaugural week, we welcome Rachael Collier, a close friend who treats Tacos El Asador like her own backyard.

The first guest blogger rule: Don’t be late for nacho night.

I felt terrible arriving well into the evening at my favourite nacho spot. Luckily, I had Sauce Queen Landau on my arm and found my new nacho friends a few beers deep. Disaster seemed to be averted – for now.

Then fear hit me immediately – had I over-hyped this place? What if my favourite neighbourhood spot couldn’t live up to the expectations of the four people staring at me with hungry looks, empty Coronas in hand?

In order to maintain the highest standard of journalistic integrity (see piece below – if nachos were like dating), I’m going to be straight up — I am too deeply involved to give an unbias review. *Note: if nachos come up in your wedding vows, as they did in mine – you may be in too deep.

Tacos El Asador is a family-run restaurant at the corner of Bloor and Clinton (690 Bloor St. W.) in Koreatown/West Annex. The small resto is take out and eat-in, but prepare to get their early to scoop one of the picnic tables inside this tiny spot (closes at 9pm).


Get ready nacho lovers – here comes review number 3 – the infamous Tacos El Asador:

A special hybrid review from:

Sauce Queen: Score: 9/10
&
Meat Master: Score 8/10

MM: We did it! We found a hidden gem. Not that the other locations were chain restaurant but this was the true definition of a hidden gem. It was a Mexican, El-Salvadorian fusion place in the middle of little Korea, that’s like saying you saw Snookie at the Library I half expected to see Guy Ferie, of Diners, Drive-In and Drives, in the kitchen being super obnoxious and raving about the nachos (come on dude frosted tips went out of style with NYSNC and just put your sunglasses in a case, not on the back of your head).

Firstly, they shook up the nacho game by serving up individual servings in cafeteria style baskets. Nachos are generally a team sport but enjoyed going alone on this one. Sauce Queen and I found ourselves getting into a nice eating zone and really getting a good eating groove going.

SQ:

The Chip – The perfect amount of salt, and there was absolutely no way these chips were going soggy on our ass. Your classic yellow, round nacho chip, these babies held those toppings on good.

The Toppings – FRESH avocado instead of in the guac form was a pleasant surprise as was the black bean spread smothered across the whole bowl. But now, let’s not forget the complimentary onion and jalapeño mixture that came on the side. How lovely to be able to add your own heat and level of bad breath to your meal.

The Cheese – Not one, but two! The first, referred to by Hot & Cheesy as “Cheese Wiz” (which may have interfered with her experience) WAS NOT Cheese Wiz, at all, it just kind of looked like it a bit (tasted way better). But then there was a second – An amazing tasting classic white mystery cheese pilled on top to save the day.

The Sauce – As much as I love sauce, it really didn’t play a major role at this party. That being said — All sauces on side? Nice. Authentic Mexican salsa? Nice.

MM: I like to talk and be loud but for the time that we were eating we were locked into a nacho trance. Our hands no longer existed, they were life sized forks who’s only purpose was getting nachos into our mouths as quickly an efficiently as possible. When I was done it looked like I had murdered a            “nacho, nacho man. I wanna be a nacho man”      (Yes! I finally got to include the only nacho themed song).

When I finally snapped out of my nacho hypnosis I looked around the table and from the look of Strictly Salsa’s nacho sweats/ glow combo I think it’s safe to say that the feelings were mutual amongst the team. This was followed by a brief nacho comma for some, a lengthily one for others.

I do think these were the best nachos we have had I am hesitant to give them a perfect score. All the unique qualities they get credit for they also lose points for. They can’t reach a perfect score for deviating from the traditional but I wouldn’t want them to be any different.

SQ: Get off your ass and make it fatter at Tacos El Asador now.

MM: PS. Superbowl Sunday is like the Christmas of nacho eating. I encourage all you nacho lovers to get a little creative with your nachos this year. Throw some extra cheese on there for the cheese heads of Green Bay or some Steele for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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