The 21 Best Nachos in America
The 21 Best Nachos in America
Courtesy of Taqueria Diana
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Nachos -- they're a combination of pretty much the best foods out there, and yet a truly transcendent plate of them is mysteriously elusive, like the Bigfoot of bar food, except (hopefully) less hairy. To make nachos great, there's gotta be something more than just loads of guacamole or tons of jalapeños -- a truism most nacho-serving establishments seem to forget when they go for quantity over quality.

Whether it's with all-over cheese coverage or the introduction of a seriously awesome unforeseen ingredient (smoked brisket, anyone?), the following taquerias, bars, and holes-in-the-wall have something that sets them apart from the pack and makes them truly supreme.

Here are the 21 best nachos in America:

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Sunset Cantina

Venue node id

3891372

San Diego, CA
What you're getting: Build-your-own Torrey nachos

This Cali spot lets you choose your own cheese-smothered adventure (it's going to end well no matter what) with their build-your-own option. Starting off with chips and melted cheddar, you can add up to four toppings ranging from guac, grilled onions & peppers, and salsa fresca to hash browns, beans, and sauteed mushrooms & jalapeños.

Courtesy of Professor Thom's

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Professor Thom's

Venue node id

3474952

Amarillo, TX
What you're getting: Nachos con carne

A big ol' pile of nachos on a plate is pretty great, but you know what would be better? Two piles of nachos. Or a bunch of individually composed (huge) tortilla chips, each with fajita beef and lots of cheese on top, for a perfectly portioned-out nacho experience, which is exactly what you'll get at El Bracero in Amarillo. They've got seafood nachos as well, but the nachos con carne are the real move here, if you're looking for something more out-of-the-box.

Tinga

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​Tinga

Venue node id

3037696

San Francisco, CA
What you're getting: Velvet nachos with chorizo

Velvet Cantina in SF layers their house-made tortillas with house-made chile con queso, black beans, sour cream, and guacamole, which alone is amazing. But add spicy chorizo into the mix and you've got a plate that truly can't be beat by any other Mission Mexican joint. And for those looking for a nacho nightcap, they also offer s'mores nachos for dessert -- chock-full of cinnamon, sugar, Mexican chocolate, crushed graham crackers, and molten marshmallow. Finally, there's a way to eat nachos for every meal!

Flickr/Garrett Ziegler

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Taqueria Diana

Venue node id

3585034

Willimantic, CT
What you're getting: First Class corn tortilla nachos

A seriously plentiful portion (have at least four people with you), you'll feast on perfectly layered, sog-proof chips drowning in shredded cheddar and Jack, diced tomatoes, scallions, and jalapeños with picante salsa on the side. You can top all that off with blackened chicken, veggie chili, or pulled pork too (go with that last one). It doesn't hurt that you can accompany this monstrosity with brews off their extensive list, either.

El Patron Cafe

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​El Patron

Venue node id

4101433

Brooklyn, NY
What you're getting: Cadillac nachos

A good serving of bar nachos is hard to find (and lord knows we've tried), but perfection does indeed reside in Brooklyn, where Southern dive The Commodore happens to be serving up a primo plate of crisp tortillas layered with creamy white queso, jalapeños, and radishes that might just make the other people at your table sorry they ordered fried chicken -- if such a thing is even possible.

Tap Bar & Restaurant

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Tap Bar & Restaurant

Venue node id

4101358

San Diego, CA
What you're getting: Carne asada chips

These babies are piled high with perfectly cooked and seriously seasoned carne asada, as well as classics like sour cream, jalapeños, and guacamole. They even give you the choice of nacho or shredded cheese, and, really, you can't go wrong with either. Because cheese. And nachos.

Flickr/BostonTx

Chacho's 

Multiple locations, TX
What you're getting: Pile High or Monster Kong nachos

This Texas chain has nacho diversity on lock, offering a ridiculous number of options. Get 'em loaded with refried beans, shredded cheese (or homemade spicy queso sauce!), and a selection of meats like shredded chicken or picadillo beef served up 24 hours a day, in case you have a 5:30am nacho craving. Which you do.
 

Graffiti Junktion 

Multiple locations, FL
What you're getting: Macho nachos

Presented on a pizza pan (we're still waiting for them to be on an actual pizza...), these nachos could feed a small nacho-loving village with their cheese-, beef-, jalapeño-, sour cream-, and pico de gallo-coated tri-color chips. The people of said village would definitely not be small, though.

Yucatan Taco Stand

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Yucatan Taco Stand 

Venue node id

3990807

Albuquerque, NM
What you're getting: Nachos grande

Tasty and authentic, these New Mexican nachos are bursting with flavorful ground beef, guac, beans, cheese, and more, all on crispy tostadas. After you scarf those down, you might as well go for some more traditional NM fare, so order their famous chicharones, which are hunks of stewed pork tucked into a warm tortilla with cheese and green chile sauce.

Cora's Grill

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Cora's 471 Grill

Venue node id

4101411

Grand Rapids, MI
What you're getting: Duck nachos

Purists might turn their noses up at the stuff, but the duck nachos at Brewery Vivant have to be eaten to be believed -- Brie cream, tomato concasse (a fancy word for ground tomatoes), duck confit, caramelized onions, and duck cracklin' with citrus all on top of perfectly cooked tortilla chips. Try any of the beers on tap, and you'll be in nacho heaven, which is perfect, considering this place is in a converted church.

Rosa's Cafe

Tempe, AZ
What you're getting: Five-layer nacho dip with blackened chicken

A deliciously unique take on the classic, this thing starts out with your basic melted cheddar over tri-color chips, but then comes the timelessly tasty trio: five-layer black bean dip, sour cream, and salsa. Definitely add the blackened chicken, or if that's not for you, something like the spicy beef with jalapeños & onions might suffice. This all allows you to build each individual chip to your liking and totally avoids any chance of the cardinal nacho sin of sogginess. They even tell you which beer to pair them with. If that's not love, then, really, what is?

Little Goat

Chicago, IL
What you're getting: Machos nachos

While everything on their menu is pretty damn unreal, the Goat's nachos are a game-changer. You get homemade tortilla chips covered with tender, flavor-packed BBQ pork, refried beans, pickled peppers, cheddar, sour cream, and guac. That's really all you need to know, right?

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Adam Lapetina is the partnerships editor at Thrillist, and has absolutely no qualms about ordering an appetizer as an entrée (if that appetizer is nachos). Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.

Rachel Freeman is a copy editor at Thrillist, and has absolutely no qualms about bringing the ruckus if you try to steal her nachos, because she has very strong attachments to jalapeños and melted cheese. Follow her into the abyss at @rachelifreeman.

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1. Sunset Cantina 916 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (Allston Brighton)

Sunset Cantina delivers cheap Mexican fare to grateful BU students, and salty snacks are the best way to keep the crowds thirsty. They up the ante with their original Sour Cream-N-Chive Fries with homemade ranch and for heat lovers, the oh-so-smoky Cajun Fire Fries will put sweat on your brow. (Also served with ranch for cooling purposes.)

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2. Taco Surf 4657 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109

This laid-back Cali spot offers build-your-own California burritos and Torrey nachos to which you can add up to four toppings ranging from guac, grilled onions & peppers, and salsa fresca to hash browns, beans, and sauteed mushrooms & jalapeños

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3. Professor Thom's 219 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Hunker down at PT's to catch the game, indulge in some way-above-average bar grub, and get rowdy with over-enthused NYU groupies.

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4. El Bracero 2822 SW 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79106

This local spot is renowned for its authentic Mexican food. Don't leave without trying their nachos -- They've got seafood nachos and bean & cheese nachos, but the nachos con carne are the real move here, if you're looking for something more out-of-the-box.

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5. Tinga 142 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Mid Wilshire)

This La Brea taqueria is brightly colored and is serving up hand-pressed tacos filled with deliciousness like bitter orange, 72 hour pork, and habanero salsa. They've also got chipotle corn dogs (!), fried chicken, and super refreshing drinks like horchata, the stuff those dudes in Vampire Weekend seem to love.

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6. Velvet Cantina 3349 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Velvet Cantina is a cozy, dimly lit Mexican spot in The Mission that also dabbles in flavors from the rest of Latin America. Its "S'mores Nachos" get a special shout-out, as well: fried tortilla strips with crushed graham crackers, Mexican chocolate, cinnamon & sugar, and marshmallows make for the perfect post-drinks snack.

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7. Taqueria Diana 129 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

This East Village spot serves up seriously tasty, classic Mexican fare packed with delicious meats, but their piles of nachos are what really steal the show.

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8. Willimantic Brewing Company 967 Main St, Willimantic, CT 06226

This brewing company might be a landmark restaurant and pub located in Willimantic, but you'll probably stay for the nachos. Or, more specifically, a perfectly layered, sog-proof chips drowning in shredded cheddar and Jack, diced tomatoes, scallions, and jalapeños with picante salsa on the side.

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9. El Patron 10551 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111

This family-owned Southern New Mexico joint is famous for its slow-cooked brisket, so you've pretty much gotta get it on top of their also-legendary nachos for a combination that's out-of-this-world awesome. Locals swear by the smoky, flavor-packed meat when it's paired with refried beans, tomatoes, guacamole, and salsa on top of authentic, house-made tortillas, so you should, too. Damn.

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10. The Commodore 366 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

The Commodore is a Southern/tropical-themed dive bar in Williamsburg. Open late, hipsters flock to its incredible fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, biscuits, and seriously dope grilled cheese. Its cocktails are also top-notch: get the eponymous Commodore, which is a Pina Colada gone buck-wild with an extra shot of amaretto thrown in there for good measure.

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11. The Tap 408 San Antonio, El Paso, TX 79901

With cold beer always on tap this a favorite amongst local. The brisket nachos come highly recommended by the range of patrons here—think hipsters and Mexican cowboys chopping it up over a beer.

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12. Colima's Mexican Restaurant 302 8 3rd St, Oceanside, CA 92054 (Oceanside)

This place specializes in seafood and delicious Mexican food. Everything is made fresh daily. Be sure to order the carne asada fries—great for sharing. They have big portions here, so just about whatever you order is sure to satisfy.

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13. Yucatan Taco Stand 24 Waterway Ave, Suite 160, The Woodlands, TX 77380 (The Woodlands)

You can expect great tacos, coconut margaritas, and some of the best nachos in Houston at this Woodlands spot. The nachos come with a laundry list of ingredients, including but not limited to roasted garlic aioli sauce; guac & sour cream; shredded pork, beef, or chicken; and three (three!!!) modes of cheese. They make the perfect companion to the tequila flights you’re definitely doing.

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14. Cecilia's Cafe 230 6th St SW, , 87102

This authentic Mexican eatery supplies inventive eats like blue corn pancakes and carne adovada enchiladas alongside simpler fare (quesadillas, loaded nachos, and tacos).

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15. Cora's 471 Grill 2204 FM 471 N, Castroville, TX 78009

They claim to have the best nachos in Texas. They also have a salad bar in case you want a lighter meal.

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16. Brewery Vivant 925 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Brewery Vivant is worth seeking out for several reasons. The first: this is one of the best breweries in Michigan, period, the end -- but people still don't seem to fully comprehend that. The second: the brewpub is located in a former funeral chapel with the bar in the pulpit, and if THAT doesn't pique your curiosity, well, then... that's just like, your opinion, man. The third: the hearty (and we mean hearty!) Franco-Belgian-inspired pub food suits the oft-frigid Grand Rapids climate and the vaguely monastic atmosphere perfectly.

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17. Four Peaks Brewing Company 1340 E 8th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

Four Peaks Brewing Company is a favorite of college students and families alike. With four locations across the Phoenix Metropolitan area, it’s a household name amongst beer lovers.

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18. Little Goat 820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Right across the street from its upscale sister Girl & The Goat, Stephanie Izard's Little Goat is an all-day upscale diner that serves insanely creative takes on classic American comfort food. Split between a sit-down restaurant and a bakery, Little Goat is the place to go for over-the-top breakfast (breakfast spaghetti, banana peanut butter waffles), exceptional burgers (you can choose between a beef, goat, and veggie patty), and crazy desserts (smoked pork & toffee crunch milkshakes, Cheez-It sundaes). If you can't sit and stay -- or handle the long weekend waits -- then hit the "Grab and Goat" take-away area.

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