The Expert: Adrian Cruz
Cred: Years and years manning Texas kitchens before heading to Mountain View, CA, to become chef de cuisine for Cocina Central
For Cruz, traditional nachos consist of tortilla chips, refried beans, pico de gallo, and ground beef, though he suggests upping that ante with mouth-melting shredded meat. After that, toss on whatever else you like -- guacamole, crema, other hot pepper sauces -- as long as you don’t violate these nach-nos:
- Supermarket chips. They’re way too weak to carry the burden of toppings. Cruz buys fresh homemade tortillas from a market, then cuts them up and fries them at the restaurant. The chip-thickness difference is… significant.
- Whole beans. They just roll right off the chips! Refrieds, on the other hand, stick to the chips and help other toppings stick as well. Real team players.
- Processed cheese sauce. Come on, man. Use real cheddar, or real cheddar-jalapeno, or whatever, as long as it’s real.
- Over-topping. Even the strongest chip can crack under the pressure. If you can’t see the chips peeking out through the toppings, you’ve gone too far.
- Old-ass pico. The pico must be fresh, and it should be chunky, to balance the richness of the rest. It can be made with non-traditional ingredients (Cruz likes pineapple), but the freshness has to happen.
What to ask your server: “Do you use fresh vegetables on your nachos?”
If they answer yes, they might have no idea what they’re doing, because outside of the pico everything should be pickled. There’s just something wrong about fresh broccoli or carrots on nachos. Ask yourself this: “If I want fresh vegetables, why am I ordering nachos?”