It’s hard to deny the allure of nachos, that perfect combination of salty chips and gooey cheese. Best consumed at major sporting events or happy hour with friends, they pair well with beer, margaritas and pretty much anything else.
In terms of categorization, nachos are firmly Tex-Mex and not traditionally Mexican. Most associate their provenance with a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico, that was hosting a gathering of American wives from a nearby Texas Army base in 1943. With no chef and limited supplies in the kitchen, maître d’ Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya put together a lunch of tortilla chips, cheese and jalapeno peppers. Anaya called them “nachos especiales” after his nickname. They proved popular, and a legacy was born.
That original version of nachos -- an individual chip piled with toppings and separated from its compadres -- is worth seeking out or making at home. Today, nachos take on innumerable forms and have morphed to include barbecue, Asian flavors and French fries.
The best nachos combine crispy chips, molten cheese, some sort of heat in the form of jalapenos or salsa, and a cool element: guacamole and/or sour cream. The toppings should be well distributed to avoid globs of cheese and dry chips.
Yakima, with its superb Mexican food offerings, seems like it would be a good place to eat nachos, and that supposition is correct. Not surprisingly, local bars offered some of the best options.
The survey that follows is not all-inclusive. Indeed, it would be difficult to sample every offering of nachos in the Yakima County area. We started with recommendations from SCENE readers, and tried to narrow down the choices to traditional nachos, setting aside some of the more experimental versions.