The world can be divided into two types of people: Those who prefer nachos with real melted cheese and those who want cheese sauce.
I want cheese sauce.
Something that we all learned from Chipotle is that cheese sauce can suck when you keep it too real. The truth is American cheese can do some things real cheese can not.
Jake prefers shredded cheese nachos. He also likes composed nachos while I prefer a big messy pile.
Post appendicitis, I’ve developed a nacho craving. I always want to eat nachos now. Here’s the latest on my search for my favorite nachos in the Twin Cities.
Pajarito, West 7th, St. Paul
Pajarito’s $6 happy hour nachos are the most simple, but the ones I long for the most.
It’s the combination of perfectly salted chips, goopy cheese sauce, pickled jalapeños, fresh cilantro and homemade salsa. They have a more deluxe version, too. This one, though, suits me just fine.
And the micheleda is excellent too. Probably my favorite version to date.
Peppers & Fries, Longfellow Neighborhood
Peppers & Fries is underrated.
On nice days, they raise the front door of the building to create an open-air setting. It’s delightful enjoying the fresh air and watching the world go by on East Lake Street.
The owner’s parents opened Boca Chica. In addition to bar food, he serves Mexican foods like tacos and burritos.
Peppers & Fries doesn’t phone in bar food. Everything tastes homemade and prepared with care. Burgers are juicy. Mini corn dogs and chicken fingers are hand-battered. French fries are hand-cut and super crispy, sprinkled with sea salt. And ranch dressing is the good kind, not the jarred stuff.
Then you have the nachos. They’re individually composed on big chips – closer to tostada size. Each is carefully topped with beans, your choice of meat (the ground beef is ridiculously seasoned), melted cheese, tomato, crema and jalapeno. Fresh, homemade salsa and guac come on the side.
Despite my cheese sauce affinity, I can not deny that these are really really good nachos.
Tavial Grill, West Seventh, St. Paul
You will not find cheese sauce nachos here, but they’re so satisfying that it’s ok.
For $8 you can order a big container of nachos topped with your choice of beef or shredded chicken, refried beans, crema, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. The nachos are more like a taco salad.
If you dine in, you get squeezy bottles of their red and creamy green salsas. Both are good and pack some heat. I’m glad I added a side of guacamole. The chunky, limey guac was worth the extra cost and held up well the next day.
I also ordered a jalapeno and cheese tamale for about $3.50. I loved it -one tamale filled me up for lunch the next day and the masa was soft and creamy.
El Taco Riendo, Northeast Minneapolis
The nachos here are ones I never know I needed all along.
Line up to order at the counter – your meal is made fresh to order. Before you reach the register, you can add whatever toppings you’d like to your meal, such as cheeses, veggies, and salsas.
Here, the nachos (about $8 with your choice of meat) are made with house-made chips that are topped with creamy refried beans and orange nacho cheese sauce. You can then choose the rest of the toppings.
The red salsa here is no joke. It’s delightfully spicy.
These nachos are best enjoyed right away before the beans and sauces make them soggy. If you’re hardcore like me you’ll eat them with a fork.
The rest of the menu here looks delicious, too.
The search continues.