Friday, December 16, 2011

Taqueria El Dorado (San Jose, CA): Chicken Nachos

Ordinarily, if a food is fluorescent orange, I get a little nervous (ok - Cheetos are an exception, even though I probably should get nervous when I eat Cheetos).  The chicken on these nachos glowed just like it does in the pictures.  Maybe it was because after the nice lady behind the counter who was also the cashier built up this tasty concoction, she microwaved it to melt the cheese (a practice I'm learning is common to most taquerias - what ever happened to the "Salamander"?  If you don't know what I mean by that, see my post about the origin of nachos)  I may never know why the chicken looked like that, but it doesn't matter.  This was a good, solid plate of my favorite Mexican food.  Great salsa at the table, too!
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: The chips weren't the best, and the ones in the freebie, "ROI" basket they give you while you wait for your order were clearly stale.  Microwaving helped.
Map to Location:

Chapala Mexica Bistro (Campbell, CA): Pork Nachos

There were 2 good things about these nachos:
1. Great, homemade tortilla chips
2. The sunlight coming through the blinds next to our table that allowed me to snap this "artsy" nacho still life photo
Other than that, all I can say is that these were pork nachos.  I'm not even going to call it Carnitas.   It was just that, shredded pork, and it tasted just like it sounds.  No extra seasonings that I could discern, no kick, just pork, with all the barnyard connotations that it implies.  Was that fat or was that melted monterey jack cheese?  The world may never know.  Harsh?  Maybe, but I was so disappointed that in this recently remodeled taqueria (now a sit-down-get-served "bistro") with its nice looking menus and pleasant atmosphere (modern ceiling fans, even!), I got such poorly executed pork, one of the mainstays of most taquerias.  I'll leave it at that, rate these, and move on to my next review...

Rating: 2½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Oink
Map to Location:

Viva Taqueria (San Jose, CA): Nachos with Chicken

Word.  Live on, Viva Taqueria!
I wish I could say that the reason it's been over a month since I posted my last nacho review was because I was occupying Wall Street or finding a cure for cancer, but it's actually because I've been spending my lunch hours at work Making sure everyone on Facebook knows that I "Like" their posts and knows what I'm listening to on Spotify.  For shame...
In any case, I'm getting back into letting the world know how much I like chips, cheese, and meat with some of the best nachos I've ever had!
Viva Taqueria is where you should go if you break into a cold sweat when thinking about shopping at Westfield Mall (Valley Fair?) and also having to brave the crowded, overpriced food court during the Christmas shopping season.  It's just a hop, skip, and a jump down Winchester and serves great food.  Get some fresh air and walk to it between buying hipster clothing at Hot Topic and laughing at the prices of the products at the Apple Store.  Nothing is really special about these, mind you, but I scarfed down these shredded chicken nachos and left nary (yes, "nary" - good word - use it, you'll like it) a scrap on the plate.  Excellent, tender shredded chicken in every bite down to the last chip(!), jack cheese, and just the right amounts of guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.  Simple formula, simply awesome.

Rating: 4½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Map to Location:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Taqueria La Taquiza (San Jose, CA): Nachos Con Carne w/Chicken

Impatience, I thank you for the discovery of this nice little taqueria!  The other day, I was Skype-ing with my nacho "wing-woman" about where we should go to get nachos this time.  In my hungry haste, I got tired of waiting for her to point us in a specific direction (what can I say - I'm a big dumb man when thinking with my stomach), so I went on Yelp and looked up 'Taquieria - Campbell, CA'.  This place had 4½ out of 5 stars, so we decided it would be a good bet.  We were right.  Given its Yelp rating and its location (Willow Glen area), I was really expecting it to be packed when we arrived there at noon.  No such issue - there was only one other diner when we arrived.  This is usually a warning sign to me, but hey, we were already there and I was hungry.  We were definitely satisfied with the meal and I'd most likely return to this place, especially since they have a wider-than-average selection of dishes on their menu.

Overall a very good plate of nachos.  The portion was just right, with a generous pile of seasoned, shredded chicken atop a pile of nice crispy chips.  All the required items were there (chips, refries, cheese, shredded chicken, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and a healthy side of jalapeños), but this is one rare instance where I would have liked more cheese*.  This place was lacking a salsa bar (gasp!), and I must say that these nachos could have used a sprinkle of some good red or green sauce to punch things up.

Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes:  Chicken had great texture, but was deceptively bland considering the amount of seasoning that appeared to be on it.  I also found one "Chicken McKnuckle™", which is never a pleasant experience.
Map to Location:

*I have a feeling that I'm going to start seeing skimpier helpings of cheese on my nachos.  Has anyone else noticed how expensive cheese has gotten?  The regular price of a 1 lb block of Lucerne brand cheddar at Safeway is 9 bucks!  For that price, I want Tillamook, damn it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mi Chalateca Pupuseria (San Jose, CA): Chicken Nachos

Ok.  This is really a shame.  I broke one of the first rules of memory card handling when I yanked the Micro SD out of my phone without turning it off first.  As you can see - a pretty much unusable photo, but I guess it's better than nothing?
In any case, This was one of the best plates of nachos that I've eaten in a while.  Surprising, considering that the chicken was grilled, but they grilled it in such a way as to avoid the usual dryness and blandness.  Also - and I don't know why I never thought of doing this - they chopped up the marinated jalapenos, carrots, and onions that you usually get at the salsa bar, and included them as a topping.  Another thing they did right? Evenly distributed ingredients instead of a pile of chicken here, a blob of guacamole there, and a pile of pico de gallo over there.  I was also glad that they used different chips for the nachos than the el-cheapo ones they brought to the table with salsa (the round kind that are 3 bucks a pound at your local grocery store).
The downside to this dining experience?  A speaker, placed directly above our table and pointed in my general direction, endlessly and mercilessly pumped out loud Mexi-pop (?) music, making us have to lean in and yell at each other to have anything resembling a  conversation. Hate that - dining is supposed to be a social experience, not a club/bar scene!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: a great mix of ingredients, evenly distributed.  The jalapenos, carrots, and onions really set things off.  A light sprinkle of unmelted cheese was a nice touch.  Take this plate, thrown in chicken from Angel's Rock House and Chips from Two Pesos and we would have had a 5!
Additional Notes:  This place has a really diverse Mexican/Salvadorian menu.  Definitely have to return here to try some of their other dishes!  Portions run relatively small.
Map to Location:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bonus Post: Howard Cosell and Nachos!

As it turns out, Howard Cosell is one of the people we have to thank for popularizing nachos, even those made with "plastic" nacho cheese.  How?  By the time the famed sports commentator was on the air, nachos had become a popular specialty in restaurants across Texas, but were virtually unknown across the rest of the country.  One day in 1977 at Arlington Stadium in Arlington Texas, a concessionaire named Frank Liberto decided to try to sell nachos at his stand  To make things more time and cost-effective, he allegedly reformulated the cheese to be soft all the time.  At first, sales were moderate at best, but what really made things take off was a visit by Monday Night Football later that year.  Before the game started they were offering the plastic cheese nachos in the reception area where Howard Cosell came in and he liked the name "nachos".  That night and for a while after, Cosell and the rest of the “Monday Night Football” broadcast team worked the word "nacho" and the product itself into their banter.  The popularity of nachos grew exponentially thereafter!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

La Victoria Taqueria (San Jose, CA): Super Nachos with Chicken

Nachos as they came from the kitchen...
This is another taqueria that I'd had a number of people suggest to me, so I definitely had high hopes for this plate (basket?) of nachos.  I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't exactly thrilled either.
The Bad:
- Stale chips
- Small portion of very thin guacamole
- Liquid nacho cheese
The good:
- Excellent Chicken
- Excellent Green salsa (I added this myself)
...and nachos slathered in "Orange Sauce" 
The really good:
- An unlimited supply of La Vic's famous "Orange Sauce", which I of course had to slather the nachos in!
All in all, probably the best "plastic cheese" nachos that I've had, but what a disappointment to not have real melted cheese with that great chicken!  It occurred to me that with the exception of the chicken, there is no cooking at all involved in the assembly of this batch of nachos.  Someone call the authenticity police!
Check out the pretty tiles on the booth benches!  I wish the comfort of the benches matched the beauty...
Rating: 3 out of 5
Rating Notes: Excellent chicken. Orange Sauce is as good as everyone says it is, if not a bit too spicy for me. They really could do better on the chips.
Map to Location:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Today is The International Day of the Nacho! (10/21/2011)

October 21st!  The International Day of the Nacho!  This holiday was created in 1995 to celebrate one of the greatest foods ever.  Thought you needed an excuse to eat this delectable, high-calorie food?  Well this is it!  So go out and get yourself some nachos today!  Here are a couple related pages for you to check out:
International Day of the Nacho on Facebook
NachosNY International Day of the Nacho Article

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two Pesos Taqueria (Los Gatos, CA): Chicken Nachos

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
I like to eat nachos...
...and I'll have a plate or three!

Well, maybe not of these ones.  I had to work on my birthday (38th, if you must know), which goes against the policy that I've been trying to hold to.  No one should ever work on their birthday and it should be a paid day off!  In any case, trying to make the best of my working birthday, I headed over to a new taqueria with a friend for a plate of nachos.
I'm going to keep it brief, because it just added to the bummer of having to work on my birthday:
>Chicken - poor
>Guacamole - not enough
>Sour Cream - nifty stripes, but not enough
>Pinto Beans - meh
On the upside:
>Great, home-made fried tortilla chips (competitive with my favorite ones from Taqueria Vallarta)
>Nice talking to my friend, Ann while having lunch
I really wish that these nachos had, per the name of this taqueria, only cost 2 pesos...

Rating: 2½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Chicken texture was ok, but I couldn't decide whether it was grilled or boiled and then grilled.  It basically tasted like plain chicken plus a healthy dose of char from the grill.  If not for those chips, this would have been a 2.
Map to Location:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bonus Post: World's LARGEST Nachos! Awesome!

BILLERICA, Mass., USA -- The Ninety Nine Restaurant in Billerica, north of Boston, celebrated the return of nachos to the menu by creating a 3,999-pound serving nachos - which sets the new world record for the Largest nachos, according to World Records Academy (

The previous Guinness world record for the
largest serving of nachos weighed 1,613.12 kg (3,556 lb 4 oz) and was made by a team led by Lolly Ahlgrim at Northstar Church in Frisco, Texas, USA.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taqueria Los Dos Compadres (Campbell, CA): Super Nachos with Chicken

Situated right next door to TGI Sushi (yum!) in Campbell, this taqueria was apparently started by a couple of friends from Mexico (kinda reminds me of those pizza joints called "2 Guys from Italy").  This is the first place I've gone on my Nacho Quest that calls itself a taqueria but has a waitress serve you.  Maybe they wanted the extra money for tips or something?  In any case, let's get to the nachos.  Great home-made chips (maybe second only to Taqueria Vallarta's?), a small layer of refried beans, and a heap of really good shredded chicken, monterey jack cheese, guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, and jalapenos made for a very satisfying, flavorful lunch.  The portion was large enough that I didn't finish them all, either.   But, just when I thought everything was going well... Chicken McKnuckle!  For those of you who haven't heard me use this expression before, it refers to the dreaded piece of cartilage or bone in the chicken you're eating that gives you a rude textural awakening and makes you grab a napkin and disgustingly spit it out of your mouth.  This happened to me not once, but twice during this meal, and I'm pretty sure I grossed out the young couple at the next table.  Surprising, considering the quality of the ingredients.  Other than that, I did enjoy my nacho experience here.  See "Bonus Bloggage" below for reasons that I'd return to Los Dos Compadres...

Rating: 3 out of 4
Rating notes:  Watered-down guacamole and the Chicken McKnuckles cost this otherwise tasty batch a point.  Because I also had to tip a waitress and the cost of the soda was a bit steep, this ended up being a much more expensive lunch than I'd bargained for.
Map to Location:

Although the score for the nachos was relatively low, I might come back to this place in the future for 4 reasons:
1. This taqueria has a wide selection of seafood dishes that looked really good (maybe I should attempt to order shrimp nachos next time?)

2. Check out this wacky 3D under-sea (bajo el mar?) mural they had on the wall.  It's like 20 feet long!

3. While I was eating, this big, tall, long-haired Mexican guy came walking in who had the top 4 buttons of his shirt undone with his chest in full view - very tough and menacing looking indeed.  He sat down at the table behind me and started munching chips.  When the waitress walked over to him, I fully expected him to sound like that guy from the movie "Machete" when he ordered his food.  Instead, he had one of the smoothest, most friendly voices I've ever heard - I almost wanted to go say hi!

4. They have a sauce at each table called "Guacamaya".  This sauce is basically a slightly different version of Tapatio, but what a great name!  Sounds like one of those goofy word combinations that I'm always spouting off!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rico's Tacos (Campbell, CA): Nachos with Chicken

After the whole nacho-less trip to Tennessee a couple weeks ago (see last post), I was really hoping that my next trip to a taqueria for nachos would really be something to talk about.  Well, kind of.  This time, I went to ‘Rico’s Tacos’ in Campbell.
Two Reasons why those of you who have worked with me in the Los Gatos/Campbell area would find it amazing that I’d never gone to this little strip-mall taqueria:
1. It’s been there since before I started working ‘round these parts in 1999.
2. Many of you thought that it was the place I referred to as ‘Ricardo’s’ (now ‘Orale’ – see earlier post), home of my favorite chicken burrito ever, and why the heck wouldn’t I have tried this highly recommended taqueria that you kept mistaking for one of my favorite taquerias before?
Two things about Rico’s that intrigued me:
1. As if they knew I was coming, they had - and I’m not joking - a hand-drawn sign on poster board that said “We Have Nachos” taped to the wall next to their regular menu board
2. Although their nachos had Queso (“plastic cheese”, as I like to call it) instead of melted cheese, their shredded chicken was so darn good, and the seasonings so queso-friendly, that I now believe you CAN make a tasty, gourmet plate of nachos with that infamous yellow goo.
Two Reasons I would go back:
1. The nachos were good and reasonably priced
2. The place IS called “Rico’s Tacos” so I should probably go ahead and try some next time
Nacho Notes (NEW Feature!):
- Great Chicken (kind of reminded me of the chicken from Angel’s Rock House – see earlier post)
- Good Chips
- Guacamole that’s mostly avocado

Rating: 3 ½ Stars
Rating Notes: Although I commend them on making plastic cheese work so well with the shredded chicken, it WAS plastic cheese and that cost them ½ a star.
Map to Location:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big Boy's Barbecue (Crossville Tennessee): Baked Potato with Barbecued Pulled Pork

Ok, I know.  I finally do a post for food that I ordered while outside of California and what do I do?  I put a picture of a big, meaty, gnarly, artery clogging, pulled pork and hot sauce-covered  baked potato in front of you and have to sheepishly admit that I was in Tennessee for 4 days and didn't make sufficient effort to get a plate of nachos.  I have an excuse, though.  This food is much more representative of where I was this past weekend than a plate of nachos could ever be!  Admittedly, we stopped at Chili's for dinner on the way from the airport to my Grandparents' house where I surely could have gotten a plate of nachos, but 1) I could have gotten nachos from Chili's in California just 10 minutes from my office, and 2) Chili's nachos aren't that great to begin with.  Let me tell you, though, this was one excellent pile of succulent southern slop.  A big, fat baked potato with tender pulled pork and really good hot sauce was just what this Californian needed to feel at home in Tennessee.  Food like this and an ample supply of cocktail fixings at my Grandparents' house helped make it a fun, relaxing 4 day weekend.  Happy 90th Birthday, Grandpa Hal!
Rating:  Unrated
Rating Notes:  Did you forget that this is a nacho blog?
Map to Location:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

La Cueva (Saratoga, CA): Nachos with Carnitas

Ah yes, back in the nacho groove after a 2 week hiatus (too busy one week, vacationing in the Sierras the next)!

Legend has it (read: I heard from my friend, Ann) that this restaurant, under a different name, used to be a fish and chips joint with bad service and mediocre food.  Next, it was a taqueria run by the same guy who owned the fish and chips place (kind of a leap, don't you think?).  Thankfully, in it's latest incarnation, this restaurant serves very good food, including this nice serving of Nachos.  I went with carnitas instead of chicken this time because their only choice is grilled chicken, which I'm pretty much done with at this point unless there are no good alternatives.  I'm really glad that my first plate of nachos after a 2 week break was tasty, nice to look at, and not too expensive.  What a disappointment a crappy plate of my favorite food would have been after such a tortuously long wait! 
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rating Notes: Decent chips, refired beans, good carnitas, pico de gallo and  nicely presented sour cream and guacamole with lots of actual avocado in it plus tender pork made these a pleasure to eat!  Great combined with their excellent green salsa, too.
Map to Location:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My First Ever Home Made Shredded Chicken

Obviously, I will, at some point either run out of taquerias to eat at or run out of money to support my nacho "habit".  The latter is the most likely scenario.  So what do I do?  Learn to make my own taqueria-style nachos, of course!  The first and most crucial step?  Learn to cook the meat.

This was my first ever attempt at Mexican-style shredded chicken and it came out pretty darn well:

A bit too salty, but I think that can be remedied pretty easily.  I'm pretty surprised at how long it takes to make, too.  Just under 2 hours, with 1 ½ hours of that being simmering the chicken (1 hour simmering the chicken before shredding it, 30 minutes after).  I happened to have roasted and peeled some Anaheim peppers yesterday because they were about to go bad and I added those to the mix.  Great addition!
Rating (Chicken only): 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Too salty.  And I thought I'd never say this, but thank you, Emeril Legassi (you obnoxious egomaniac) for your chicken nachos the recipe that I used as a basis for this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taqueria El Ranchito (San Jose, CA): Regular Nachos with Chicken

After the disappointment you may have detected in my last post on Taqueria Vallarta's nachos with chili verde, I really needed something great, so a few coworkers and I cruised over to this brand new taqueria with high hopes.  The reviews on Yelp were decent, so why not take a chance?  (That will be the only question in this post - I promise ;-).  Overall, a good plate.  The chicken could have used a bit more flavor, but the texture was just right and the balance of ingredients was perfect.  The guacamole was tasty too - not nearly as radioactive looking as it appears in the photo.  Very crispy, light chips to scoop it all up with.  The downsides to this place had nothing to do with the nachos.  They were stingy on the chips and they didn't have a salsa bar (gasp!) which was a damn shame because the red salsa they gave us with the chips was excellent.  For this last reason, I won't be going back, but that didn't stop me from giving them a decent rating on their nachos.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Nice presentation!  Also, half way through my nachos, I realized that they'd only charged me for a "Small" nachos with no meat.  I felt a little guilty about it, but no salsa bar and one tiny bowl of chips for 4 people?  Come on.
Map to Location:

Taqueria Vallarta (Santa Cruz - Pacific Ave, CA): Chili Verde Regular Nachos

Why am I doing another post for Taqueria Vallarta?  Why not?  Why hadn't I ever tried their chili verde on nachos before?  Why switch to chili verde when the chicken is so good?  What was I thinking?  Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?  Then why doesn't the chili verde compare in flavor to the chicken?  What does a pile of my favorite chips plus cheese, pork, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo bring to my life?  You don't know by now?  Then why do you think I'm smiling?
What is the Rating?: 3 out of 5
Why?:  Good overall, but way to much cheese and not enough chips
Where is it?:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

El Burro (Campbell, CA): Nachos with Chicken

Most of the time, when you go to a sit-down Mexican restaurant, rather than a taqueria, you get a pretty darn nice plate of nachos (Chevy's has been the only exception so far).  El Burro, like Casa Lupe, builds each nacho with care, making sure that a nice helping of each ingredient makes it to your mouth with each bite.  Speaking of ingredients, there was a decided lack of color (and salsa) on these nachos, so I "customized" them with a spoonful of their yummy red salsa on each:
Much nicer to look at, and even better tasting this way.  Don't get me wrong, they were very good, even without the salsa, but that's how I roll.  The shredded chicken was very tender with good flavor, if not very juicy and I really like it when cheddar cheese is used instead of Monterey jack.  The chips were just ok, but so big that each nacho took about 3 bites to polish off, which made for some amusing, messy eating.  The guacamole was mostly avocado, which is always a plus, and the refried beans made for great adhesive to bring it all together.  Overall, a good bet if you're looking for a big plate of restaurant-style nachos.

This post is dedicated to the late Bob Johnson, a great guy that I worked with for 8 years during my industrial design career and who loved to eat at El Burro.  May you always enjoy delicious nachos wherever you are, Bob!

Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: May possibly have been a 4 (3¾?) , but I had to add the salsa myself, and these were relatively expensive ($8.95)
Map to Location:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tortilla Flats (Soquel, CA): Small Nachos with Chicken

Ah yes, Tortilla Flats, a fixture in Soquel (near Santa Cruz) since the early 80's.  My family and I have been going to this excellent hole-in-the-wall gourmet Mexican restaurant since I was a kid.  This is no ordinary Mexican restaurant.  They have killer specials and great desserts.  My dad got mushroom tamales made with 3 different kinds of gourmet mushrooms.  One of the dessert offerings was mango cream pie (my wife and I were sad that we didn't have enough space left in our tummies for it after devouring our main courses).  My usual here is their amazing "Red Pepper Chicken Enchiladas".  Believe it or not, I'd never had their nachos!  Since I was there with a group (Mom, Dad, Wife, and Kids), we ordered nachos as an appetizer.  Predictably, they were very good.   The chicken was tender, the cheese was good quality, and the guacamole was excellent.  Best tomatoes that I've had on a plate of nachos, too!  These definitely weren't the best nachos I've had, but I was glad to see a solid showing from one of my favorite restaurants.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Map to Location:
Footnote:  I thought it appropriate to share a couple more photos from my dining experience this evening:

 "Red Pepper Chicken Enchiladas"  My old standby.  So good!  The sauce is amazing.

"Watermelon Margaritas" Wow.  $9.50 each?  Wow!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chevy's (San Jose, CA): Nachos Grande

Lunch at Chevy's on a Wednesday afternoon with my good friend Karl.  It doesn't get much better than that!  Believe it or not, in the many times that I've eaten at Chevy's (and there have been many times), I'd never had their nachos before.  When I opened the menu, I was presented with 2 choices for nachos, the 1150 calorie "Fajita Nachos" and the 1910 calorie "Nachos Grande".  Against my better caloric judgement, I went with the Nachos Grande.  Why?  Because they come with "Salsa Chicken" instead of grilled chicken (fajitas are grilled, right?).  It was the right choice.  This is a good plate of nachos, albeit expensive as nachos go ($9.99).   All the right elements are there, including jack cheese, cheddar cheese (a rarity), refries, tasty chicken, a great red sauce (enchilada sauce?), and sour cream, guacamole, and salsa fresca (pico de gallo).  The only complaints at all that I have about these nachos are:
1. Why are they so hard to eat?  It's almost impossible to get a chip with every ingredient on it because they're so haphazardly thrown together. You've gotta dig to get to the chicken, too.
2. Why didn't they use their epic warm, crispy corn chips that they give you free with every meal?  As dipping chips go, they are my absolute favorite anywhere, and may have made it into my "Perfect" nachos post ahead of those from Taqueria Vallarta had I gone to Chevy's sooner.  Instead, they used some pretty average tasting chips that were and entirely to large.
Rating:  3 out of 5
Rating Notes: Take a little time to assemble a nacho with all of the ingredients and these are really great tasting. ½ a point was deducted because of the price, which should have yielded a slightly larger portion with more meat.
Note:  Not sure if you've been to a Chevy's before, but at the one in San Jose on Winchester where we ate, they used to have "El Machino", an ingenious device that would automatically fashion an awesome tasting flour tortilla from a little ball of dough.  Fascinating to watch!  Now, on the side of the front dining area where El Machino used to reside, they have a very generic looking tortilla press.  Lame.
Map to Location:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Del Taco (Campbell, CA): Macho Nachos with Chicken

Sometimes, you go to a restaurant with low expectations, thinking that you are probably going to get something pretty mediocre, something that doesn’t taste great, but will do ok  because you’re so hungry.  Then you get there, order your food, it shows up and turns out to be a completely unexpected, awesome explosion of flavors and textures that you never would have thought you’d find in a fast food joint.  You end up eating it fast so you can whip out your smartphone or race home and jump on Twitter and Facebook as soon as possible to tell the world how amazing and unexpected the culinary experience you just had was.  After that, you call your mom, tell her about your meal and ask her, “Why couldn’t you possibly have cooked anything when I was growing up that vaguely approached the magic of the meal that I just ate?!”  She starts crying, runs into the family room where your dad is watching football, smacks him across the face, and asks him through tear-filled eyes how he could have raised such a heartless, unappreciative son.   Do you feel guilty?  No.  Do you worry that your dad is getting a beating?  No.  You don’t care, because you’ve just had the end-all-be-all version of your favorite food…

This was not one of those times.

Let’s just say that this “macho”-sized pile of canned/processed goo over chips tasted, smelled, and delivered exactly the dining experience you’d expect from a Taco Bell competitor.  The dark red spots you see all over them are “Del Inferno” hot sauce that I sprinkled on to punch up the flavor a bit.  Sure, they were a step up from a Taco Bell Nachos Supreme (see my first ever post), but the chicken would definitely have been right at home in a TB “Chalupa”, so don’t go rushing out to try these.  I really should have ordered beef instead, since the flavor would have been pretty expected (read ‘ok’) for this type of eatery, but as far as I know, Del Taco is one of the only fast food places where you can get chicken nachos, so I went with “pollo”.  Maybe I’ll try the Green Burrito for my next Mexican fast food outing…

Rating: 2 out of 5
Rating Notes: These nachos got an Extra ½ point for giving me inspiration for a silly, tongue-in-cheek introduction for this blog post.
Map to Location:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Special Feature Post: "5 Star Nachos?"

At this point, I've eaten 20+ plates of nachos at various locations.  I have no intention of stopping any time soon, especially since I haven't found the "prefect" nachos upon which I'll be able to don my highest possible rating of '5' upon.  If I were you, I'd be wondering, "Geez, what the hell kind of magical nachos is he looking for?"  And if I were me (which I am), I'd be saying this:  "Why don't I just show you, you cynical person, by using the nachos I've eaten so far to illustrate what I'd consider 5 star nachos?"  So here it is, bits and pieces of nachos I've eaten so far that together would create the "perfect" plate!  Now if I could only get all of these taquerias to get together for a corporate merger…

1. Meat:
Angel's Rock House (Finley, CA) Chicken Nachos: The best chicken I've had anywhere, by far!

2. Chips:
Taqueria Vallarta (Felton, Santa Cruz, or Capitola, CA):  Homemade (deep fried corn tortillas), thick and crispy at the same time.  Dangerous!

3. Cheese:
Pretty much Anywhere that uses the right amount of real cheese like Monterey Jack wins here, but I'm going to call out the Burrito Factory (San Jose, CA) on this one because their plate of  "Nachos Con Carne" with Chicken is so pretty and has just the right amount of cheese.

4. Salsa:
Taqueria Vallarta (see above) makes an excellent pico de gallo that I'd put on top of any nachos I've had so far.

5. Sour Cream:
Since pretty much all of the sour cream that I've had tastes pretty much the same, I'm going to go for presentation.  Tu Mero Mole (San Jose, CA) gets the nod on this one with their pretty grid pattern gracing the top of their Chicken Nachos.

6. Guacamole:
Andale (Los Gatos, CA) Grilled Chicken Nachos:  Who can beat that nifty little corn chip bowl of guacamole perched on top?  And the guacamole was the good stuff, mainly avocado, not all thinned out like some other places serve it.

7. Extras:
Orale (Campbell, CA) Small Chicken Nachos: The best simple combination of "extra goodies" on top of their nachos (black olives and jalapenos)

8. Presentation:
Casa Lupe Restaurant (Campbell, CA) Nachos with Chicken: Not just a handful of chips with the other ingredients piled on top.  These were individually "constructed" and placed onto a plate with care - easy to eat and every single one had all of the ingredients - nice!

Hypothetical Rating: 5 out of 5
Rating Notes: If only...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My House (Ben Lomond, CA): "Pretty Good" Rotisserie Chicken and Black Bean Nachos

Nice!  A lazy Sunday, hanging out at home with my sweetheart, doing nothing much.  For lunch?  Of course, - nachos!  On Friday, I'd stopped by Safeway for this and that and they were running a special on whole Rotisserie chickens for $5 each.  There was still some left over on Sunday and that gave me a great excuse to make a hearty batch of home made goodness.  This time, I put a layer of chips (Kirkland Signature), mild cheddar, black beans, chicken, diced onions, and a dusting of chili powder.  On top, a nice blob of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa (Pace - don't laugh - for a processed salsa, that stuff is pretty darn good).  While I still don't like these as well as most taqueria nachos, they are better than some that I've had (you hear that, Los Gallos and Fiesta Taqueria?).  As usual, I made and ate too many, but that's the kind of thing you're supposed to do on a lazy Sunday, right?  And how many times do I get to enjoy a Corona with my lunch?
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Good, filling flavor, decent chicken, and got an extra half a point because I got to have a beer with 'em

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Angel's Rock House (Finley, CA): Nachos with Chicken

Ahhh - 4th of July weekend out of town with my wonderful family in the beautiful Clear Lake, CA area!  What better time to enjoy some tasty nachos?  After hanging out at our friends' house and trying to beat the 100 degree heat by downing sodas, cocktails, and numerous slices of watermelon, we decided to go to Angel's Rock House in Finley, which is just off of Highway 29 beteen Lakeport and Kelseyville (no, I don't expect most of you to know where those towns are ;-).  Aside from houses and farms, this tiny, sparsely populated agricultural town doesn't have much more than a grocery store and this great little Mexican restaurant - not even a single traffic light.   But this is a true diamond in the rough when it comes to great nachos!  I can safely say that out of the 20 or so different plates nachos that I've reviewed for this blog, Angels' Chicken Nachos had the best chicken I've had anywhere!  Savory, tender and full of flavor, the chicken practically forced me to keep eating these nachos, even though it was more food than I really should have stuffed into my stomach.  The chips were also very light and crispy - I definitely ate too many of them out of the free basket they gave us while we were waiting for our dinner to arrive.  If you're ever in the area around lunch or dinner time, be sure to stop off in Finley for some nachos!

Historical Note:  "Back in the day" as they say, Angel's Rock House was more of a bar and grill where a lot of locals and migrant workers used to hang out.  Rumor has it that it was also a brothel!  This, combined with there apparently being a lot of nasty fights and other questionable behavior, didn't exactly make it the best place to take your kids for dinner.  However, it's now a nice, clean establishment with good food (my kids loved the burritos), and a very warm, friendly staff that I'm pretty sure are all family from the area.

Rating: 4¼ out of 5
Rating Notes: Could have been a 4½ but for the lack of pico de gallo or tomatoes on top.  This would have given the extra color and fresh flavor that make a well-rounded plate of nachos.
Map to Location:,-122.875814&spn=0.027214,0.033345&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=56.06887,68.291016&z=15

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Urban Dictionary: "Rescue Chip"

From my "Urban Dictionary" 365 day calendar the other day.  Thought it was appropriate for this blog...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fiesta Taqueria (Campbell, CA): Super Nachos (Chicken instead of Beef)

Yay!  Yet another taqueria has opened in Campbell, and it's just a 15 minute walk from my office!  As I strolled down Union Avenue on a glorious summer day, my mind was full of high hopes for this festive-sounding taqueria.  When I got there,  no fiesta was happening (not even mariachi music playing in the background), but it was clean and bright inside and the woman at the counter was very nice.  How were the nachos?  Interesting.  Instead of melted cheese on the chips, a strange, crumbled cheese (and not very much of it) was sprinkled over the top.  The woman behind the counter, who also brought out the food said that was a Mexican cheese, kind of like parmesan.  My first thought was, 'Oh, so this must be the authentic Mexican way of making nachos.'  But a second later, I remembered my previous post about the origin of nachos and realized that couldn't be true!  Here is the breakdown:
- Cheap ($4.55 for "Super Nachos")
- Shredded chicken
- "Mexican Parmesan" is pretty tasty
- Good guacamole and pico de gallo
- Nice big bottles of tasty salsa (red and green) brought to the table with the food
- Chips from Costco (the ones that come in the giant bag - very easy to identify in the world of chips!)
- Chicken = just ok, somewhere in between Taqueria Vallarta in felton and Taqueria Los Gallos in Scott's Valley.)
 - No melted cheese (seriously?)
- Needed a healthy dousing of their excellent green salsa to punch up the flavor

The Verdict?  Not bad, but even though no melted cheese = healthier, no melted cheese also = not really nachos (the folks at Fiesta Taqueria should read my previous post!).

Rating: 3 out of 5 (would have been a 2½, but for how relatively cheap they were)
Rating Notes: As on the Food Network show, "Chopped", you definitely lose points for missing a key ingredient.
Map to Location:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fun Fact: The Origin of Nachos!

The other day, I was once again thinking, "Wow, nachos really do rule.  I wonder who invented them?"  After a quick look at Wikipedia and a Google search for references to back it up, I found a pretty interesting story about where this delightful food came from.  Read and enjoy!

(Paraphrased from Wikipedia and an article written by Karen Haram for the San Antonio Express in Texas)

Back in 1943, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya assembled the first plate of nachos.  At that time, he had no idea that 60 years later, this appetizer would make his nickname a household word.  At the time, señior Anaya was working at the 'Victory Club', a restaurant owned by Rudolfo De Los Santos in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.  As Igancio's son, Ignacio Jr. recalls the story, a woman named Mamie Finan and a group of 10 to 12 officers’ wives, whose husbands were stationed at Texas' Fort Duncan Air Base, traveled across the border to eat at the Victory Club. When Señior Anaya couldn’t find the cook, he sprung into action.  Anaya, a maitre d’ at the time said, "Let me go quick and fix something for you." He went into the kitchen, picked up tostados (chips), grated some cheese on them, and put them under the "Salamander" (a broiling unit that quickly browns the top of foods). He pulled them out after a couple minutes, all melted, and added some slices of jalapeño.  The name of the snack, Anaya Jr. says, came from Mamie Finan, who called the plate of cheese- and pepper-topped chips Nacho’s Especiales. The name was later shortened to simply “nachos.”

References for this blog post:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taco Bravo (Campbell, CA): Super Nachos with Jalapeños

Those of you who know of Taco Bravo knew this was coming.  A Silicon Valley institution (meaning that if you eat here often, you should be institutionalized), Taco Bravo has, at their 4 locations, served cheap,  yummy "Mexican" food that strangely has had a cult following for the past 20+ years.  I may get hate mail for saying this, but really, Taco Bravo is just a small step above Taco Bell, and their menu - recently(?) changed from a generic slatted white,  snap-on-lettered sign to a nifty yellow, red, and black plexiglass one - is much smaller.
The nachos?  Not wanting to get anything but the gnarliest pile of processed goodness I could, I ordered their Super Nachos, composed of pretty much everything they have behind their takeout counter...
- Chips (cheap and crispy)
- Ground Beef (I'll bet it's at least 50% beef - take that Taco Bell!)
- Queso (or "plastic cheese" as I like to call it)
- Grated Cheese (what? queso and real cheese?  wow!)
- Sour Cream
- Diced Tomatoes
- Sliced Jalapeños (against my better judgement, but it just seemed right - this is Taco Bravo for God's sake!)
These are also available as "Mini Super Nachos", but what fun would that be?  Eat 'til it hurts, I say!
These are really tasty in such a different way than the usual taqueria nachos I eat.   No carefully seasoned chicken and freshly made Guacamole or pico de gallo - just a big pile of all the stuff you love but know you shouldn't!  Yes, they're terrible for you and going to stick in your digestive system for the next week, but they're just so good!  Did I eat them all?  No, but I surely ate more than I should have. 
Rating: 3 out of 5
Rating Notes: 3 out of 5?  Yeah - I do have standards so that's as high as I could go, but I'd totally eat these again - plus it's only 5 minutes from my office.
Other Notes:  These are the first nachos I've eaten with a spork (see photo)!
Map to Location:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Burrito Factory (San Jose, CA): "Nachos Con Carne" with Chicken

Ahhh - eating nachos outside on a beautiful, 80 degree day in June…  it doesn't get any better than that!  This taqueria is about 5 minutes from my work (yes, as you may have noticed by now, I work in a very "taqueria-heavy" area) and had been on the list of places to try for a while.  How about the nachos?  Usually, when I go to a chain taqueria, even a small chain like the The Burrito Factory, I have low expectations.  This time those low expectations were unwarranted.  These are some excellent nachos!  Nice presentation, not too much cheese, a pretty pattern of sour cream, and a generous heap of guacamole on top.  The shredded chicken was tender and flavorful as well - a very important factor in my ratings.  And even though I'm pretty sure those lively red and green chips have stuff in them that may give me cancer, they sure made for a pretty plate!
The down side(s)?  Relatively speaking, this was not a very generous portion for $7 plus tax, even though it was more than I could eat, and what's with that sneaky layer of beans underneath everything that you kind of have to scoop out and place on the nachos separately?  Weird presentation choice indeed.
Other goodies?  If you get to this taqueria, be sure to try their mango pico de gallo.  It has the usual fresh flavor of pico de gallo with a nicely integrated sweetness from the mangos - an excellent compliment to the nachos!  They also have 3 or 4 other kinds of salsa, all of which were pretty tasty.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: Would have been a 4 if not for that sneaky, "interestingly" flavored layer of beans underneath.
Map to Location:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mad River "Vacation Nachos" (Thanks M & D!)

Last week I went on a great vacation with some close family friends in Mad River, CA, about 100 miles from anywhere that would serve a plate of nachos, so what did I do?  Improvise!  The first night were there, our friends made an amazing, but cheap and simple tortilla soup.  The "tortillas" for the soup were corn chips that you'd mix in, and the soup would soften them up, then you'd add cheese and sour cream on top.  Sounds pretty close to nachos to me, so I laid down a nice stack of chips, topped it with soup (lots of meat, beans, olives, etc...), added some cheese and sour cream to the top and viola - vacation nachos!
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: (not really a true plate of nachos, but I gave extra points because food improvisation is fun and everything tastes better when you're on vacation!  ;-)
Map to Location: You wish!  It's a secret!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Taqueria Eduardo (Campbell, CA): Chicken Super Nachos

To get to 'Taqueria Eduardo', head north down Winchester in Campbell and go a little ways past Hamilton.  Is that McDonalds that I see on the left?  Is that yet another tiny, funky strip mall behind it?  Is that the world's narrowest parking lot?  Is that yet another Taqueria adjacent to a nail salon?
This funky, tiny (4, tables, a sitting bar, and a total of 24 seats, the most distant of which is about 10 feet from the kitchen/ordering counter), no-frills taqueria is a total dive with nothing special on their very limited menu except for maybe Pork stomach as a meat choice - eeeeewww.  However, they serve a very tasty, very reasonably priced plate of nachos ($5.50 for the full boat super nachos with meat).  This place also gets kudos for asking me if I wanted grilled chicken or shredded chicken (shredded, please!).  Just the right amount of cheese, tasty chicken, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole and some of the hardest, thickest chips I've encountered so far (see below for what my Chinese friend, Ken, who also ordered nachos, thought of them).  The sliced jalapenos on top were a nice touch and added some great flavor.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Rating Notes: (these would have gotten a 3½ but the chips made Ken's mouth tired) 
Map to Location:

Fun Fact!

A coworker of mine just told me that in Hindi, there is a word 'naacho' (pronounced just like nacho) that means 'dance'.

Naacho + Nachos = PARTY!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Casa Lupe Restaurant (Campbell, CA): Nachos with Chicken

What do they serve in Lupe's house?  Tasty goodness, that's what!  I almost felt bad getting Nachos (technically an appetizer) at this Campbell sit-down Mexican restaurant, considering that they serve up some really unique stuff like catfish fajitas(!)  However, I didn't feel like I missed out.  This plate contained exactly 10 - count 'em - nachos.  Skimpy?  Perhaps, but each nacho was built with care, with its own layers of beans, shredded chicken, and cheese in just the right proportions.  All it took was a dab of guacamole, sour cream, some of their excellent salsa, and a bit of the shredded lettuce garnish on each one to turn this plate into 10 triangles of bliss.  And you know what?  Despite it being one of the more expensive plates of nachos I've ordered ($8.95), it seemed to be just the right amount of food and didn't leave me feeling like I over-ate (the usual ;-).  Great stuff!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Map to Location:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Planet Fresh Burritos (Santa Cruz): Regular Nachos with Chicken

A friend of mine had been recommending this place to me for awhile, so I, my family and she hopped in the car and made our way down to this nice little Santa Cruz taqueria the other day.  Located in a corner space on Center Street near down town Santa Cruz, this nifty little taqueria serves up what they call "Gourmet Burritos".  Basically, this means that they put some ingredients in their burritos that you wouldn't normally expect, like Thai chicken, prawns, and some other stuff not found on your typical taqueria meat selection.  In any case, I didn't care on this particular visit (I'll be back):  I was there for nachos!  From the normal to unusual mix of ingredients available on the menu for their menu selections, I was very curious about what I'd find in my nachos.  The answer?  The usual (chips, refried pintos, guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, chicken, of course, and a bonus - scallions!) and that's good!  The scallions were a nice touch, btw.  I sometimes use those in my own cooking instead of regular onions.
In any case, these were some very "fresh" tasting nachos, with just the right amount of cheese and chicken.  And they actually gave you enough chips so that you didn't just end up with globs of goo in the bottom of the plate at the end.  And move over, Andale (see past post) - this is probably the best grilled chicken I've had: not dry and chewy - moist and tender.  Nice!
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Rating Notes: (would have been a 4 but for the fact that they brought me my nachos with no chicken at first and then had to add it to the top = lame)
Side Note:  They have a salsa at Planet Fresh called   "Sweet and Hot  " that is totally awesome.  This goey, Asian-esque salsa went great with the usual nacho flavors, but I'll bet it's killer if you combine it with one of their less pedestrian meat selections! 
More interesting side note:  Back in the day (mid-90's), a friend of mine had a band that played in this same space (I forget what it was called), and when I showed up, they had no one to run the mixing board for the show.  Since I'm a musician myself, they chose me.  Cool - I was almost part of the band - chicks dig that, right? 
Map to Location:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Taqueria Vallarta (Felton): Al Pastor Regular Nachos

It's mother's day weekend, and my wonderful wife wanted to grab some quick dinner while the boys were at Grandma and Grandpa's house, so we went to our old standby.  Ah, the rewards of trying something new!  Yes, I've been to Taqueria Vallarta in Felton a million times and yes, I've had their nachos a million times, but ALWAYS chicken.  After my great experience at Taqueria Superior with those Chile Verde Nachos, I thought, "Why not try something new again?"  I have to admit, I'm still partial to their chicken nachos, but their al pastor version is nothing to sneeze at.  A truly tasty meal.  Nice!  By the way, I'm not sure I gave enough kudos to 'Vallarta for their chips last time.  They're home made, thick, crispy, pure awesomeness.  I'd rather eat these than almost any other corn chip I've ever tasted.  I think the only ones I like better are the ones you get at Chevy's (review of nachos at Chevy's coming soon!)
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Map to Location:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Taqueria Superior (Campbell, CA): Chile Verde Nachos

I'd driven by this place a zillion times during my tenure as a Los Gatos/Campbell business employee, and wondered if it was really "Supérior".  I walked in, planning to get a plate of chicken nachos, but the meat selection on the menu caught my eye.  Chile Verde?  That sounds good!  And what a good choice it was.  These nachos, heaped generously with refries, chile verde, Monterey Jack, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo were great (and check out that nifty sour cream stripey pattern, the likes of which I hadn't seen since I went to Tu Mero Mole)!  Tangy, with just enough green peppery taste to give an extra kick compared to what I'm usually used to.  Highly recommended.
Side Note: They have a really tasty avocado salsa (not quite guacamole, not quite salsa) at their free salsa bar!  Their red salsa is good as well.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Map to Location:

Andale (Los Gatos): Grilled Chicken Nachos

Ok - how often do you see sour cream applied with a pastry bag to make decorative little blobs, or guacamole sitting on top of a plate of nachos in its own little crispy bowl (the bowl is actually edible, even tasty, by the way, unlike those stale cactus "corn chips" you get on your plate at Chevy's!)?  Best Grilled chicken I've had anywhere.  Even makes me not long for shredded chicken.  I've gotten these before with Andale's rotisserie chicken too, which is pretty epic, but turns an $8 (ouch) plate of nachos into a $14 (yikes) plate of nachos.  Great stuff!
Side Note: Be sure to try their tasty peanut salsa (lower right in the picture)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Map to Location:

Los Perricos (Campbell, CA): Chicken Nachos

Another strip mall gem, Los Perricos (the parakeets?), serves up a great plate of chicken nachos.  They may use green salsa to stretch their guacamole, but it works, and it tastes great on top of the pile of thick, crispy chips, great-tasting "shredded salsa chicken", cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream.  No beans on these nachos, and they definitely don't need the extra flavor they would add.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Map to Location:

Gloria's (Campbell, CA): Chicken Nachos

Gloria's gets immediate credit for being different.  First of all, it's a sit-down/get served restaurant with reasonably priced taqueria-style food.  I was happy to see that they offered shredded chicken on their nachos, but it's a really different kind of flavor from the other places I've been.  Kind of a really savoryt salt and pepper flavor.  The chicken was nice and tender and balanced well with the refried beans, cheese, guacamole and sour cream.  If you like mild, these nachos will make you happy as well.  Not really a hint of spiciness.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Map to Location:

Maya's Cafe (Campbell, CA): Chicken Nachos

This taqueria definitely gets convenience points.  It's only about 5 minutes from my office in a little strip mall near Union and Bascom (seems there are a lot of good little taquerias in strip malls around here).  This was definitely a nice-looking plate of nachos - check those even stripes of sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo!  The chicken had a very nice flavor, but like most grilled chicken from taqueria's the texture left something to be desired.  I'll likely get these again since they're almost within walking distance from my work.
Rating: 3 out of 5 (would have been 3½ out of 5 if they'd given that flavor to some shredded chicken)
Side Note: If you're still hungry, hop a couple doors down for some great fish and chips at "Harbor Fish and Chips" 
Map to Location:

Victor's Taqueria (San Jose, CA): Chicken Nachos

Overall, a nice plate (takeout container?) of nachos.  Not the most flavorful chicken, but crispy chips and guacamole without too much filler.  I have to admit I'm liking having the refries on my nachos as well!  One of my main hangups is that this doesn't seem like a $7.25 plate of nachos.  For the quality and flavor, I'd say $6.00 would be fair.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Taqueria Vallarta (Felton): Chicken Regular Nachos (to go)

I'm actually surprised that these weren't the first post I made after the Taco Bell nachos.  Taqueria Vallarta (multiple locations in Santa Cruz County) is one of my old standbys.  Their food is good, reasonably priced, and the people that work there are really friendly.  I've had their "Regular Chicken Nachos" many times and while they aren't the best I've found so far, they're always good.  Thick, home-made deep fried tortilla chips, juicy shredded chicken, and generous portions of guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo make for a tasty, filling meal every time.  I took this picture when I grabbed some for take out one night after work.  The presentation is much better when you eat in, trust me.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
Warning:  There is an impostor taqueria in Sunnyvale, CA masquerading as 'Taqueria Vallarta' that I unfortunately stopped at for some chicken nachos at a few years ago (thanks/no thanks, GPS points of interest!).  Those were the most offensive plate of nachos I've ever had.  Tasteless Chicken, obviously watered down guacamole and sour cream (seriously, who does that?), very average salsa.  And, they even charged 25 cents for a tiny tray of corn chips (again, seriously, who does that? - As a friend of mine once said, free chips and salsa is your "ROI" when you go out for mexican food).  Needless to say, avoid this joint and
stick to the Taqueria Vallarta chain in Santa Cruz county.  They rock!
Map to Location: