Text

image

It was a rainy Sunday when I stumbled across the Tostito’s Nacho Average Food Truck sitting on 4th Avenue tempting shoppers to try free samples.

I’ll be honest, I was in two minds about venturing over there. As much as I love nachos and food trucks, I was slightly put off by the corporate appropriation of such a hipster way of serving food. 

After all, Tostito’s is a product of Frito-Lay, which in turn is a division of PepsiCo, the American multinational food and beverage corporation.

Nevertheless, taking a free sample off them gave me an opportunity to cost them money and enjoy some tortilla, so I sauntered over to see what they were offering.

image

As you can see Tostito’s had not only appropriated the food truck, but also the women of seemingly Mexican origin serving free samples.

The free samples this Sunday were Brie Bites - a crumpled tortilla chip containing a piece of brie cheese, with apricot jelly and walnut on top.

image

So what’s the verdict? A zesty enterprise for sure. But it could have been vastly improved if the brie had been melted. Like most things really.

Aside from the free samples, it turns out you can actually buy whole dishes at this food truck, so perhaps it’s not just for promotional purposes. 

Here’s the menu:

image

All these options were apparently created by chef Josh Wolfe, the local chef, restaurateur and owner behind the Fresh Local Wild food truck and the upmarket Good Wolfe Yaletown restaurant.

As far as I could see though, there didn’t seem anything particularly upmarket, wild or local about the offerings here at the Tostito’s food truck.

From a purist nacho point of view, pretty much all of the menu options sound very, very wrong. But without time to try a full dish, I’ll have to reserve judgement.

It’s hard not to see this for exactly what it is - a corporate ploy by a multinational company trying to mimic its small independent rivals in a bid to undercut or just plain steal the local market.

Starbucks does it, setting up fake independent coffee shops in towns hostile to chains.

Anheuser-Busch does it, buying out then selling craft beers that compete with its market.

And so it seems, Tostito’s is following the corporate pack.

Can’t get enough ethical Vancouverites to buy your mass-produced chips?

Get yourself a food truck, make a bad pun people remember from a better joke and pretend like you’re part of the local community.

You’ll have them eating out of your hand in no time.

Tostitos Food Truck
@TostitosCanada

And for those of you who appreciate a good nacho pun - here’s my favourite:

Text

image

These were late night nachos following a beercycling tour of craft breweries in East Van.

After several beers and some hard liquor, this dive sports karaoke bar seemed like a good idea - and it was.

Again, my friends ordered nachos without even asking me and the karaoke began in earnest behind me.

When the tortillas arrived, I was truly impressed.

The chips were warm and piled high, with toppings dominated by black olives in an unusual - and tasty - move I greatly appreciated, albeit in my inebriated state.

image

Hardly a chip went untouched by toppings, all bound together with swathes of cheese.

Exactly the kind of hearty plate we needed. But what of the dips?

Sure, the salsa tasted a little pre-made, but the sour cream was rich and thick and the guacamole, although probably pre-made, was chunky and tasted cool and zesty.

Before long I was dancing away in my red plaid shirt and bandanna, fuelled by cheesy nachos and cheesy karaoke.

True, this seemed like a dodgy karaoke sports bar at first glance.

But like the smiling servers and karaoke singers, these nachos tried hard and the results were surprisingly good for late night drunken ballast.

The Locker Room Pub
395 Kingsway
Vancouver, B.C.
http://lockerroompub.ca/


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

In a worrying trend, this is one of two nacho reviews written with a hangover. Mental note to self - not every night in the pub requires several pints of Gypsy Tears.

To put this review in more than the context of excessive drinking, I should start by saying that my reputation as a nacho reviewer is beginning to precede me, especially at work.

And so it was that on a work night out at Kingston Taphouse and Grille, I saw nachos on the menu, decided not to make that night about the tortillas - and then someone ordered them for the table anyway.

Of course, when called upon to review this platter, I was happy to oblige and fortuitously, these turned out to be some tasty nachos.

The nacho plate was well presented, with the main event on a round basket platter and the side dips contained in mini tortilla shells.

Guaranteed, if I wasn’t surrounded by work colleagues trying to maintain some sense of decorum, I would have devoured those shells.

Instead, I nervously worked my down the layers of tortillas, trying not to look like I was hogging the plate and worried that the initial endorsement I gave to my colleagues would be unravelled by a lack of cheese.

image

Relief! Cheese was happily spread throughout, with rewarding chunks of Cheddar binding the warm chips with toppings of scallions, jalapeños and olives. And my endorsement seemed to encourage everyone to dig in.

Meanwhile the guacamole was fresh and chunky and the salsa was spicy, with an edge of bolognese sauce about it. With such zesty guac and salsa, the rich sour cream finally served a purpose.

Overall these were good, well-presented nachos, that everyone seemed to enjoy.

And judging by the amount of nacho platters ordered by tables around us, this is no secret.

Kingston Taphouse Bar and Grille
755 Richards Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 3A6
http://www.kingstontaphouse.com/


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

I ate these nachos during the England v Italy match at the start of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil and wrote this review in conspiracy with Conrad Olson. Our inspiration came from the dismal commentary we’ve all been hearing here in Canada.

The anticipation in the crowd was electric as we waited for these tortillas to emerge from the tunnel at Estadio PHAT.

Would these nachos display some zesty guacamole and the salsa of success - and would they be as delicious as the ball control of Brazil?

At kickoff, this classic lineup of tortillas showed enormous promise, with plenty of mature Cheddar around the halfway line.

A solid attack from seasoned regulars tomato, jalapeño, red pepper and red onion, resulting in a textbook goal early doors.

But this is a game of two halves.

And there must have been a disagreement with the coach at half-time, because the cheese did not come out of the dressing room for the rest of the match.

The nacho-cheese partnership was sorely missed in the second 45 minutes, as tortillas made probing runs onto the plate, only to come out empty handed.

Again and again, it was a nacho ball in, but there was no cheese on the end of it.

The pre-made guacamole looked tired, as the salsa of success turned out to be more of a pre-made clumsy challenge.

Even the deceptively tasty sour cream wasn’t thick enough to hold the line firm. This was not end-to-end stuff.

The topping tang lacked stamina and towards the end of the game left it to the salty tortilla dregs to hang on until the final whistle.

If anything, these nachos played too well in the first half. And at the end of the day, they just didn’t follow through.

They needed a goal - but much like the England players, I could not even be bothered to finish the tournament.

PHAT nachos put up a brave effort but they aren’t going to make it through the group stages. Here’s a list of the bookies’ favourites to go on and win the tournament.

image

PHAT Deli and Sports Bar
1055 Mainland St,
Vancouver, BC
V6B 1A9
http://phatdeli.com/

View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

Patrón Tacos and Cantina is right around the corner from my office, on Robson between Cambie and Hamilton. I get takeout from there all the time - enchiladas with salsa verde - and it’s delicious, since you ask. But I’ve never enjoyed a sit-down dinner there.

Last week I decided to change all that and headed to Patrón for nachos with two willing companions, after some preparation drinking Gypsy Tears at that other nearby nacho location, the Back Forty, beforehand.

At Patrón, a raspberry margarita set me up well for the $14 Nachos, which come with an option of chorizo, beef tinga, chicken tinga or cheese.

I can already recommend the chicken and beef, as I’ve tried those before in my takeout enchiladas. This time I chose the chorizo, which I hadn’t seen as a nacho topping anywhere before.

Notably, the guacamole was already included in the nacho platter and I settled back in the low light, brown leather, modern Mexican cantina knowing I was in good hands.

When my nachos arrived, on old school blue and white crockery, tortillas already smothered in pico de gallo and sour cream, my anticipation grew.

Sure, this was definitely a smaller serving for one and the guacamole painted a solitary figure in a side dish, but these nachos, already drenched in toppings, were after my own heart.

The traditional yellow corn tortilla chips were warm and inviting, offering layers and layers of delicious ground chorizo.

Unlike the Spanish sausage I was expecting, this was Mexican chorizo, a ground pork dish that is quite rare outside its home country.

While naturally a little dry, the meat was complemented perfectly by the juicy salsa and thin but rich sour cream slathered across the dish.

Lolling layers of melted white cheese reminded me of quesillo, the white cheese so beloved in Oaxaca, rather than the usual Monterrey Jack.

Topped off with hot jalapeños and cool tomato, these were succulent nachos through and through, that harked back to the homeland.

But what of the guacamole? Well.

Nobody puts guacamole in a corner, least of all me, but somehow Patrón had managed to do exactly that.

Certainly, the guac was fresh and tasty, but it was almost completely overshadowed by the festival of flavours on the main plate.

And I have to confess that, despite sidelining the guac, Patrón fully deserves an honourable mention.

Rooted in traditional Mexican ingredients, rather than the modern Tex-Mex twist, these nachos appealed to my love of Mexico.

A new addition to my favourites list - I’ll just ask for the guacamole on top next time.

Patrón Tacos and Cantina
265 Robson St
Vancouver, BC
V6B 6A1
http://www.patrontc.com/


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

It had been a whirlwind week for me at work and by Friday I was gagging for some nachos. And some good ones.

I decided it would be fun to open my nacho destination to the fans of Best Nachos In Vancouver on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. By the end of the day, I had several suggestions across the platforms, including the Hurricane Grill.

So my shift ended, I jumped on my bike - and within five minutes I was enjoying a much-needed strawberry margarita on the sun-drenched patio on Marinaside Crescent at Aquarius Mews.

Like anyone who finishes work while the sun is shining and heads to a waterside bar filled with upmarket tourists and well-heeled Yaletowners, just to order some nachos, I felt a bit like I was cheating at life.

But I was starving, so enough with basking in the sunshine - I ordered the Muchos Nachos for $15 with guacamole for an extra $3. Then basked a bit more in the sunshine. Until my hungry jaw dropped open.

These nachos knew how to make an entrance. A multi-coloured tower of tortilla chips, crowned with heaps of fresh tomato, yellow and green bell peppers and crispy, chunky cheese.

Yes, you read that right. Crispy, chunky cheese. Hidden in the top layer, a piece of succulent grilled cheese so perfectly crispy, that I decided to save it right until the end as a treat.

But I needn’t have been so cautious. Huge lumps of melted Cheddar was what held this warm nacho stack together, all the way through.

This was a great start. But there was one downfall of the nachos stack - an almost complete lack of chillies. Perhaps the salsa would make up for this, I thought.

Unfortunately, the salsa was probably the worst I’ve ever had in Vancouver. It was thin, watery and tasted of nothing. I’m not sure what they were thinking. No chillies there, although adding hot sauce to it did at least give it some flavour.

The big bowl of guacamole was fresh and tasty, although I did get hints of the avocado being almost overripe. Nevertheless, with the lack of good salsa, I devoured that guac and still had chips and cheese left on the plate when it ran out.

The sour cream was thick, although not as rich as the best sour creams I’ve tasted. Also, without the lack of chilli, it seemed to serve little purpose.

In the end, this was one impressive and satisfying plate of nachos, let down only by bad salsa and a lack of chillies. So make sure to ask for hot sauce.

And damn, that last crispy morsel of cheese was worth saving.

Hurricane Grill
1137 Marinaside Crescent
Vancouver
http://www.hurricanegrill.ca/ 


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

It’s been more than a week since I tried the nachos at The Foundation. Why so long for the review you ask? Honestly, a massive hangover. And then a ton of work. But now I’m back in the game…let’s do nachos!

The nachos at the Foundation, a vegetarian restaurant on the corner of 7th and Main streets, were first recommended to me by a friend and then again by a Best Nachos In Vancouver follower on Facebook.

With such high praise, I made a point of heading there one lunchtime to taste their tortillas…After waiting what felt like forever to try to order, alas! It was not to be - they don’t start serving nachos until 4:30 pm.

I was there with a friend so I ordered an East Van Town instead - black beans and bananas on rice. It was a nice change and fairly tasty. Unreasonably healthy though. Bring on the nachos.

Two days later, and I was back for dinner. To be precise, a $12 plate of the Utopian Nachos with guacamole on the side for $2 extra.

We were sat right next to the open kitchen so could see all the dishes arriving. Everything looked delicious and fresh.

Finally my nachos landed - and my excitement slowly eroded away.

The tortillas were overly toasted. That’s not to say they were burned, but they were as close to the baked precipice as you can go before plunging to certain death in blackened canyon.

The chips came liberally scattered with black beans and sweetcorn, which proved pretty dull, especially once I worked my way through the top layer of Cheddar to discover a distinct lack of cheese.

As for the dips, the guacamole wasn’t chunky or zesty, although the salsa was tasty and fresh. The sour cream was pretty standard, and given how unexciting the rest of the dish was, pretty pointless.

Truthfully, I really, really wanted to like these nachos. I had heard so many good things about them and this was my second attempt to try them.

But these nachos were just boring. Given the Foundation’s otherwise unusual menu, this seemed really odd. I was expecting so much more.

As it turned it out, not only did the nachos fail me - so did the service.

You see, both times I’ve visited the Foundation, I’ve noticed the service is not great. Servers are slow to acknowledge your existence, or the fact that you would like to eat something.

This time round, they and I both lost out, because they totally failed to tell me about the nacho special, a daily twist on the usual dish, with more imaginative ingredients than the unexciting platter I’d been delivered.

We only noticed the nacho special, scrawled on a blackboard in a different part of the cafe, as we walked out feeling disappointed. When we enquired, it turned out they do a different nacho special every day.

I did think about going back a third time to try and review the nacho special and give these guys the good nacho review many people think they deserve. But after writing this review, I’m not sure I will.

The Foundation
2301 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5T 3C9


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

Let’s get things straight - this isn’t the first time I’ve eaten nachos at The Score on Davie. The first time was two years ago, when I first started Best Nachos In Vancouver.

But when I launched the site across Facebook, Twitter and Google+ recently, the sportsbar got in touch on Twitter to ask me to come back and try their pulled pork nachos.

@bestnachosinvan I was in The Score on Davie last night and had the nachos. I think they’ve been upgraded since your review.

— Conrad Olson (@conradolson)
May 4, 2014

@conradolson @SCOREonDaVIE I’ll be checking those out and reporting back soon!

— Best Nachos In Van (@bestnachosinvan)
May 4, 2014

@bestnachosinvan @conradolson yes….you should. Make sure you get the pulled pork nachos….and a caesar!

— Score on Davie (@SCOREonDaVIE)
May 4, 2014

@SCOREonDaVIE @conradolson Duly noted - can’t wait! Here’s my old review of The Score’s nachos: http://t.co/woaL18RL84 Hoping to beat that!

— Best Nachos In Van (@bestnachosinvan)
May 4, 2014

@bestnachosinvan @conradolson it’s now our mission…

— Score on Davie (@SCOREonDaVIE)
May 4, 2014

Looking back at my old review of The Score’s nachos, my overriding feeling seems to have been disappointment at what might have been. After being invited back, I’m happy to report The Score has upped its game considerably.

I decided to go for nachos at lunchtime, so I could meet a friend in the sunshine and bask on The Score’s large patio on Davie Street. As ever, the staff were friendly, accommodating and quick to take our order. Unfortunately, I had to forgo the suggested Caesar, as I was due into work later on.

Surprisingly, the price of the nachos has not changed in two years - still $17. I got mango guacamole for an extra $2.50 and pulled pork, as advised, for an extra $4, albeit on the side as my companion was vegetarian.

First things first - the price may not have changed, but the presentation certainly has.

The nachos arrived on a wooden platter, accompanied not only by salsa, mango guacamole and sour cream, but also refried beans and of course, my pulled pork helpfully placed in a ceramic side dish.

I couldn’t wait to jump right in. The multicoloured tortilla chips were crisp and the toppings were fresh. Olives, green onions, jalapeños and chopped tomato mingled with roasted corn for a sweeter, more playful bite.

The rich, red salsa was fresh, spicy and exactly the right consistency, not too chunky, not too watery. The sour cream was thick and creamy, while the beans tasted homemade, and yielded to a dipped chip much better than I anticipated.

As for the mango guacamole…it was mouthwatering. I can’t believe I’ve never tasted this before. The sweetness of the fruit in the avocado perfectly complemented the sweetness of the corn on the tortilla chips. And as my companion rightly said, “I’m going to add guacamole to all my mango from now on.”

But what of the cheese you ask? The cheese - or lack thereof - may be the only weakness in this whole experience. As I devoured the layers of chips, I realised the cheese was very thinly spread, leading to a crispy but ultimately uncheesy plate of nachos.

However, the luscious pulled pork, thickly coated in a tangy BBQ sauce, came to the rescue. In all fairness, the pork was intended to be slathered throughout the chips and if that had been the case, would I have noticed the lack of cheese?

I like to think so, but truthfully, I found myself spoiled for choice regardless, chip jumping between sweet roast corn, mango guacamole, salsa roja, refried beans, sour cream and pulled pork. I also found myself reaching for all of them in equal measures, something which almost never happens.

And if there had been more cheese… I would have been even more shamelessly stuffed than I was half an hour later, when I finally gave up hope of finishing the whole pile of chips and asked for a takeout box to take the rest to work with me. So maybe… just this once… it’s ok.

A definite result for The Score here - a hearty plate of nachos that wins a well deserved place on my favourites list.

The Score
1262 Davie Street
Vancouver
V6E 1N3
www.scoreondavie.com


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

It’s exactly a week since I sat in The Lions Pub eating these nachos - not somewhere I’d normally go, but then it was a pretty unusual day.

Two friends of mine had just run the Vancouver Marathon and after I met them at the finish line, it was clear they were not physically capable of walking to one of our preferred haunts.

With each step, our intended drinking destination was revised and revised until eventually we simply stumbled into the nearest pub - The Lions Club on Cordova St, a deceptively large bar with little to no atmosphere.

Post marathon, my friends were exhausted, barely able to eat or drink, but the rest of us, stood outside in the rain for most of the morning, needed sustenance. Alas - despite the lack of customers, service was interminably slow.

Not only was the server slow to take our drinks order, but when she did bring the beers and Caesars, we ordered back-to-back rounds, figuring our second drinks would take so long to arrive, we would have plenty of time to finish the first.

At this point, I think the service, and our drinking, speeded up a little and we finally got to order some food. 

Suspiciously, the nachos were described only as “served with salsa and sour cream” on the menu. Also suspicious, among the optional additions was cheese - not “extra cheese” but just “cheese”. Would there even be cheese on these nachos? Was I making a huge mistake?

Ever committed the chip, but eyeing a cost of $16 for potentially cheeseless nachos, I tried to ask for a half portion, but to no avail. In the end, I went with a full portion with added guacamole for an extra $3. I didn’t mention the cheese - I mean, if you have to ask for cheese, what the hell kind of nachos are they anyway?

As it turned out, not so great. These nachos were much like the pub itself - bog standard, unimaginative and lacking in character. True, nothing was burned, but nothing tasted that fresh either.

Against all the odds, there was cheese but typically, it wasn’t enough, and it certainly didn’t bind together the canned olives, jalapeños, scallions and chopped tomato beyond the top layer.

The dips were also uninspiring, especially the green mush of a guacamole. And for some reason, knowing I was going to share these nachos with one of the marathon runners, the server bought us two sets of dips. Like it’s not common practice to, um, share? 

Overall it was a funny kind of day. Inspiration, emotion and dedication were all around me as marathon runners crossed the finish line. Some with imaginative flair, others with determined grit. Only a small minority of people will ever match their epic achievement.

These crushingly bland nachos just could not compete. 

The Lions Pub
888 West Cordova Street
Vancouver, BC
V6C 0A7
http://tcclub.com/Lions-Pub.aspx


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map

Text

image

The Local, a busy bar next to Kits beach, has been my local for more than two years. But shockingly, I’d never tried the nachos there until now - and I was in for a few surprises.

The Fully Loaded Nachos cost $18 for a full portion or $9 for a half size. I went for the half size, and paid an extra $5 for guacamole on the side, since the nachos apparently weren’t loaded enough to include that.

My first surprise came when the food arrived and our server began making ‘guacamole’ at our table.

This has only happened to me once before. That legendary day, several years ago, we were in Dos Caminos, a Mexican restaurant in New York, sent there on a friend of a friend’s recommendation, told only that we must order the guacamole.

Lo and behold, a Mexican guy arrives at our table with a trolley full of raw ingredients and makes some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had, all in a large, basalt molcajete right in front of us.

It was amazing. It changed the way I saw guacamole forever. I mean, the guy cracked open the avocados with a machete. Right there in the restaurant. At least, that’s how legend tells it.

Perhaps it is an unfair comparison, but I’m going to make it anyway. The Local failed to live up to the legend. After my initial surprise wore off, I have to admit the server simply threw some pre-chopped cilantro and pre-made tomato salsa into a stainless steel bowl already containing pre-cut avocado then gave it a couple of token mashes. Guacamole? I think not.

Somewhat disappointed, I turned to the colourful plate of nachos, which looked much more promising. I dived right in.

Success! The chips were crisp and plentiful, bound together by generous helpings of gooey Jack cheese. Chunky portions of tasty pulled chicken were strewn throughout in a tangy, tomato BBQ sauce.

In between those main events, drizzled sour cream mingled with bucketfuls of black olives, hot jalapeños and oversize chunks of avocado.

True, those first few bites were delicious. But then came two more surprises. Two criticisms I’ve never had to make of any nachos in Vancouver. Salt and beans.

Bizarrely, once I broke through the succulent top layer, the chips started to taste mostly of salt. Some actually seemed coated in salt. I have never seen nachos ruined like that before.

The salt also seemed to have permeated the excessive serving of refried beans, which quickly wore out its welcome. Even without the salt, you can have too many refried beans, and this was it.

The Local does so many things so well. Spicy Caesars served in a glass boot. Funky menus printed on a streetmap. A sunny, packed patio that defies the seasons. So I just don’t understand how they could ruin such good nachos.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be going to my local. But next time, I’ll stick to my usual - fish tacos and a damn good fight for a patio seat.

The Local Public Eatery
2210 Cornwall Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6K 1B5
http://localkits.com/


View Best Nachos in Vancouver in a larger map