Burgers and fried chicken are all well and good, but when it comes to the ultimate drinking food, there’s really only one choice: the best nachos in NYC. The city’s best Mexican restaurants don’t just dish out some of the city’s best tacos and best guacamole, but also tricked-out nachos, topping mountains of tortilla chips with savory simmered meats, tangy pickled chilies and plenty of cheese. The next time you’re sipping a margarita, be sure to command a plate of the best nachos in NYC, too.
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Best nachos in NYC
At both East Village and Hell’s Kitchen locations of this utilitarian Mexican restaurant, you can find six varieties of nachos, each doled out as a heaping mess of fresh-fried chips, cheese and toppings on a sheet tray. A standout is the house al pastor, which features quivering, yielding bites of blistered, spit-roasted pork tossed with white cheddar, salsa and choice of beans (pinto, black or refried). $9.87.
Denisse Lina Chavez, known around these parts at the Queen of Carnitas, moved her cramped bodega–cum–taqueria from the south Bronx to central Brooklyn with this 32-seat Prospect Heights successor. Inside the cheery space–decorated with bright-green stools and pineapple-painted walls–the chef nixtamalizes blue corn via a Jalisco-imported custom masa machine to make tortillas, which she crisps up for a great plate of nachos heaped with gobs of guacamole. Vegetarian $12, with meat $15.
The congenial, busy owners of this Mexican joint make their own fresh masa (corn dough) from grain soaked and ground on-site. This means tacos of spicy skate that's been tucked into ethereal corn blankets, and house-made nachos ($11) layered with Oaxacan cheese, pico de gallo, beans, crema and avocado. For the latter, you can choose your own protein: chicken ($13), steak ($18) and al pastor pork ($14).
Alex Stupak’s masa proves the hydrocolloid skills he honed at wd~50 and Alinea are still in tact. His tortillas—made from Indiana corn that’s nixtamalized (the grains are cooked in limewater and hulled) and pressed in-house daily—are thin and springy, with a delicate maize sweetness. That subtlety isn't lost in a plate of meaty nachos, dotted with juicy nubs of chorizo and generously drizzled with crema. $12.
Cheese lovers can take solace in this bountiful dish of triple-queso nachos from former Ofrenda chef Luis Arce Mota. Super-crunchy tortilla chips are fanned out like a sun, centered with a delicious mess of poblano cheese sauce, black beans, pico de gallo and gooey pulls of melted Monterey and cheddar cheeses. $10.
Junk-food evangelist Stephen Tanner tenders gluttonous Mexican-ish comfort plates to sop up the Brooklyn bar's saccharine pours. While the Tex-Mex trend earned a resounding thumbs-down across the river (lo siento, El Original), the unfazed toque and his co-chef, Dennis Spina (River Styx), zealously riff on South of the Border staples like tri-salsa, queso-shellacked nachos with pinto beans and cilantro. $12.
The nachos at this Cal-Mex chain (with locations in Park Slope, Greenpoint, Red Hook at the Upper East Side) cloaks a mound of chips, black beans, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños and roasted corn with copious amounts of molted cheese sauce. The stack is finished with heaping spoonfuls of chunky guacamole and smooth sour cream, as well as your choice of protein (chicken, steak, pork or ground beef for $4 extra). $12.
Get tacos, margaritas and a ribsticking take on comfort-food nachos at this Crown Heights Mexican joint, from the owners of Dram Shop. For those nachos, the team smothers house-made tortilla chips in the restaurant’s signature queso sauce and tops them in sour cream, fresh pico de gal and sliced avocado. $9; with chicken $13; with shrimp $14.
Instead of traditional Mexican cheeses, the nacho plate at this West Village Cuban diner features an unlikely but delicious mix of Gouda and Meunster. Those cheeses are matched with chopped beef short ribs, black beans and zingy jalapeño, and dressed with fresh guac and crema.$10.95.
The nachos at this East Village sports bars come as “single” (for 1-2 people; $7.95), “double” (2-4 people; $13.95) and “triple” (for five or more people, issued out on an 18-inch pizza tray; $26.95). No matter what size, you can expect with a nuanced house-special cheese blend (melted Jack, sharp-aged cheddar, nutty Havarti) and a vegetarian-friendly medley of chopped jalapeños, black olives, green peppers, red onions and tomato.
The Nacho Mama at this Battery Park City restaurant smartly arranges thick-cut tortilla chips in a single layer—that means each chip gets a generous amount of toppings, from melted jack cheese to pickled red onion and salsa ranchera. Want meat with that? Order the Macho Nacho ($17), which is the Nacho Mama with the zesty addition of chorizo. $15.
Texan barbecue meets Mexican flavors with the chili con queso nachos at this barbecue temple. Beefy chili melds with house queso atop crispy tortillas, which are further festooned with red onion, pickled jalapeño and chipotle crema. Take things even further into ’cue territory with optional chopped brisket for three bucks more. It’s enough for two to three people, but you won’t want to share. $8.95.