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Where can I go for a plate of nachos that can feed myself, my friend, and our collective sads? A plate of nachos so hefty, it is cumbersome to keep on your lap?
Such an important query, Sabrina. I’m going to trust that what you’re looking for here is nothing particularly cheffy; we’re talking giant pile of tortilla chips, tons of cheese, globs of guac and sour cream, and maybe a hearty serving of some sort of meat. Right? I think I have you covered here.
Now, when it comes to cheese, some people prefer a gooey, molten, electric yellow cheese sauce as opposed to melted real cheese, one that maybe has some pull but is ultimately melted or broiled onto the chips. I’ll offer options for both here. For the former, Tight Tacos within the Zipper goes for a pretty saucy nacho, each chip layered with orange nacho cheese, guac, and crema, plus onions, cilantro, and a choice of protein (if it were me, I’d go for the birra de res for maximum sauciness). Plus, Tight Tacos makes its own tortilla chips, which is above and beyond, in my opinion.
For something a little more neighborhood bar-vibed, people swear by Kay’s nachos in Sellwood, which come with house nacho cheese sauce, house tortilla chips, black beans, roasted jalapeño, tomato, cilantro, guac, sour cream — the works. Kay’s also offers a wide range of add-ons, including blackened chicken, barbecue soy curls, avocado, etc.
It’s a little fancier than you’re probably looking for, but I will wholeheartedly vouch for the Expatriate nacho. Don’t overthink the fancy bar vibe — these are saucy, fully loaded nachos covered in Thai chile cheese sauce, lemongrass beef, and makrut lime and tomato salsa over wonton chips. Look, see? Those just look like plain-old delicious, sloppy nachos, right?
For a traditional melted cheese nacho, Low Tide Lounge serves a straight-up tower of nachos, absolutely drenched in sour cream and guac. This is artistry, folks. The benefit of this model is that the chips at the center stay relatively crisp; as you pick at chips, sure, you’re kind of in a Jenga scenario, but also the toppings drip down to the lower chips thanks to gravity; you get the right balance of saucy chips and crisp chips, depending on what your vibe is.
I’m also not typically an El Matador person, but if I’m really craving nachos, I have to acknowledge that they kind of nail the giant pile. The chips come with a broiled blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and a generous mound of cilantro-lime sour cream, with a few options in terms of add-on proteins. You get that nice balance of overloaded, lightly soggy chips and the super crisp, lightly cheesed side chips that are good for dipping and dunking in excess guac and salsa.
You’d likely find a wider range of options via our dive bar or Mexican restaurant maps, and I’m sure every reader has some go-to emotional support nacho they’d like to share with the class — Portland, feel free to send me nacho tips via our tip line. May melted cheese and guacamole cure what ails you.