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Calexico
Calexico’s nachos
Photo via Calexico/Facebook

15 Gloriously Messy Nachos to Try in NYC

From loaded sports-bar varieties to surprisingly refined takes

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Calexico’s nachos
| Photo via Calexico/Facebook

pNachos are not quite Mexican and not quite American. Reportedly invented just over the border from a U.S. military base, they’re a true hybrid food, endlessly customizable and beloved by just about everyone. While the Southwest is still king of nachos, the options in New York are diverse and worth tearing through from one cheese-coated platter to the next. These are the city’s supreme nachos, from sports-bar grub to more haute variations.

Note: This list is arranged geographically, north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Calexico

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1491 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10075
(347) 967-5955
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While the debate over whether to use melted cheese or cheese sauce on nachos rages on, Calexico proves that there’s no reason to choose. The California-style Mexican restaurant submerges its chips in both dairy products and completes them with guacamole, roasted corn, black beans, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and sour cream. There are additional locations in Brooklyn, plus a food truck in Soho.

2. Valhalla NYC

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815 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 757-2747
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While bar nachos seem simple enough, their execution often leaves a lot to be desired. Valhalla draws in Hell’s Kitchen crowds not just with its top-notch beer selection including 48 craft brews on top, but also with bites that are much better than they need to be. The nachos grande are expertly layered with juicy beef or chicken, onion, sliced olives, jalapeños, and slick, unfussy cheese sauce. The sour cream and salsa on the side ensure everything stays crisp.

3. Virgil's Real BBQ - Times Square

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152 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 921-9494
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Virgil’s is one of the more respectable dining establishments lining Times Square, with its competent barbecue dishes. The nachos don’t skimp on the smoked meats, layering chips with pulled chicken, pulled pork, and Texas-style brisket in addition to cheese, jalapeños, bacon, and scallions.

4. Tortillería Nixtamal

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104-05 47th Ave
Queens, NY 11368
(718) 699-2434
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All the masa here is homemade using a nixtamalization process, and much of it gets shipped out to Mexican eateries across the city to be enjoyed as tortillas and tamales. The restaurant part of the tortilleria makes nachos that hold their own in NYC’s nachoscape. The impossibly light wedges of fried corn dough stand out amid the beans, Oaxaca cheese, crema, pico de gallo, and half an avocado sliced on top. For a few bucks more, add meat.

Tortillería Nixtamal
Tortillería Nixtamal
Tortilleria Nixtamal/Instagram

5. Hill Country Barbecue Market

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30 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010
(212) 255-4544
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Though New York is not ground zero for barbecue or Mexican-American food, Hill Country’s excellent, moist smoked brisket makes an ideal accompaniment on its nachos covered in cheese, vegetables, and sour cream. They’re only available on the bar menu, all the better for knocking back with mezcal margaritas.

Hill Country Barbecue
Hill Country Barbecue
Daniel Krieger

6. Mexicue

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160 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(646) 649-3133
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As nachos are not authentic regional Mexican food, it’s only right that superlative versions come from venues willing to mix up cultures. The barbecue-Mexican hybrid Mexicue offers a classic rendition of nachos with a poblano cheese sauce, black beans, pickled peppers, pico de gallo, and a sprinkling of cotija. But it’s worth the $4 surcharge to get them coated in smoky, sweet burnt ends chili. There are additional locations in Nomad and Times Square.

7. El Toro Blanco

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257 6th Ave
New York, NY 10014
(212) 645-0193
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The nachos at this high-end Mexican restaurant, newly helmed by chef Ivy Stark, are only available at happy hour in the bar area, but at $6 (or $8 with protein), they’re a steal. The substantial tortilla chips get dotted with a refined yet indulgent mix of pinto beans, cheddar sauce, Oaxaca cheese, pickled jalapeños, pico de gallo, crumbled queso blanco, and crema.

El Toro Blanco
El Toro Blanco
El Toro Blanco/Facebook

8. Taqueria Diana

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129 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(646) 422-7871
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Started by Californians in 2013, this small East Village taqueria slings reliable tacos, burritos, and nachos that have gained a cult following, allowing the restaurant to expand across the city. Nachos come in six varieties, splayed out on a metal tray for even topping distribution. The crisp, tender carnitas are heaped on the chips with melted Jack, beans, pickled jalapeños and carrots, salsa, plus optional crema and guacamole. There are additional locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg.

9. Empellon Al Pastor

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132 St Marks Pl, New York, NY
New York, NY 10009
(646) 833-7039
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Chef-driven nachos might seem gratuitous for what’s basically a game-day food, but the most casual outpost of Alex Stupak’s gourmet Mexican mini-empire has added nachos alongside the signature spit-roasted pork that suit its bar space. The delicate tortilla chips, made fresh daily, get a generous dousing of crema and pico de gallo.

Empellon Al Pastor
Empellon Al Pastor
Empellon Al Pastor/Instagram

10. One Stop Beer Shop

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134 Kingsland Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 599-0128
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The tortilla chips at this cheerful beer-focused bar near the BQE are neither artisanal nor house-fried, but that matters little once they’ve been coated in the abundant portion of juicy pulled pork, pungent white cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole. In warmer months, enjoy them at one of the outside tables with a spicy brew that can stand up to all that flavor.

One Stop Beer Shop
One Stop Beer Shop
One Stop Beer Shop/Facebook

11. La Contenta

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102 Norfolk St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 432-4180
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The nachos are as pretty as the intimate environment of this Lower East Side restaurant from chef-owner Luis Arce Mota. They arrive prettily fanned out in a circular pattern with bright vegetables and a triple helping of cheese, including a poblano cheese sauce and melted Monterey and cheddar. There’s an additional location in the West Village.

La Contenta
La Contenta
La Contenta

12. El Vez

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259 Vesey St
New York, NY 10282
(212) 233-2500
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The nachos in this festive Mexican joint from the Starr Restaurants group (Upland, Le Coucou) come with equally colorful names. The Nacho Mama plate ingeniously arranges the thick tortilla chips in a giant single layer, so each bite gets a helping of melted jack cheese, black beans, salsa ranchera, sour cream, and pickled red onion and jalapeño. The Macho Nacho rendition is the same, but adds chorizo.

El Vez Photo by Daniel Krieger

13. The Commodore

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366 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 218-7632
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This meticulously conceived Williamsburg dive embraces down-home American food with sophisticated twists, from its fried chicken plate to the Cadillac Nachos, a massive pile of fried tortilla chips that are thoroughly layered from top to bottom with piquant cheese sauce, crema, and not one but three salsas. Despite their artery-clogging potential, they also get a vibrant shower of radishes, scallions, and cilantro.

The Commodore
The Commodore
The Commodore/Instagram

14. El Kucho

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141 Wilson Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(917) 966-5124
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This barebones spot in the heart of Bushwick’s hip Jefferson stop area splits its menu between Puebla specialties, like the sauce-soaked pambazo sandwich, and comforting Tex-Mex go-tos. The thin, crispy tortilla chips in the nachos come topped with beans, sour cream, queso blanco, cilantro, onion, and jalapeño, and work nicely with carnitas. Supplement them with the homemade chili con queso, which improves on the tried-and-true Velveeta and Rotel formula with a sharper cheese flavor. The result is both gooey and crunchy.

15. Gueros

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605 Prospect Pl
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 230-4941
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Tacos and stiff margaritas are the main draws at this unpretentious Crown Heights taqueria, but the nachos are secret stunners. They’re packed high with all the requisite fixings, including cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and salsa. For a few dollars more, they can be laced with any of the meats available, even fried chicken.

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1. Calexico

1491 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10075

While the debate over whether to use melted cheese or cheese sauce on nachos rages on, Calexico proves that there’s no reason to choose. The California-style Mexican restaurant submerges its chips in both dairy products and completes them with guacamole, roasted corn, black beans, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and sour cream. There are additional locations in Brooklyn, plus a food truck in Soho.

1491 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10075

2. Valhalla NYC

815 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

While bar nachos seem simple enough, their execution often leaves a lot to be desired. Valhalla draws in Hell’s Kitchen crowds not just with its top-notch beer selection including 48 craft brews on top, but also with bites that are much better than they need to be. The nachos grande are expertly layered with juicy beef or chicken, onion, sliced olives, jalapeños, and slick, unfussy cheese sauce. The sour cream and salsa on the side ensure everything stays crisp.

815 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

3. Virgil's Real BBQ - Times Square

152 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

Virgil’s is one of the more respectable dining establishments lining Times Square, with its competent barbecue dishes. The nachos don’t skimp on the smoked meats, layering chips with pulled chicken, pulled pork, and Texas-style brisket in addition to cheese, jalapeños, bacon, and scallions.

152 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036

4. Tortillería Nixtamal

104-05 47th Ave, Queens, NY 11368
Tortillería Nixtamal
Tortillería Nixtamal
Tortilleria Nixtamal/Instagram

All the masa here is homemade using a nixtamalization process, and much of it gets shipped out to Mexican eateries across the city to be enjoyed as tortillas and tamales. The restaurant part of the tortilleria makes nachos that hold their own in NYC’s nachoscape. The impossibly light wedges of fried corn dough stand out amid the beans, Oaxaca cheese, crema, pico de gallo, and half an avocado sliced on top. For a few bucks more, add meat.

104-05 47th Ave
Queens, NY 11368

5. Hill Country Barbecue Market

30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010
Hill Country Barbecue
Hill Country Barbecue
Daniel Krieger

Though New York is not ground zero for barbecue or Mexican-American food, Hill Country’s excellent, moist smoked brisket makes an ideal accompaniment on its nachos covered in cheese, vegetables, and sour cream. They’re only available on the bar menu, all the better for knocking back with mezcal margaritas.

30 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010

6. Mexicue

160 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

As nachos are not authentic regional Mexican food, it’s only right that superlative versions come from venues willing to mix up cultures. The barbecue-Mexican hybrid Mexicue offers a classic rendition of nachos with a poblano cheese sauce, black beans, pickled peppers, pico de gallo, and a sprinkling of cotija. But it’s worth the $4 surcharge to get them coated in smoky, sweet burnt ends chili. There are additional locations in Nomad and Times Square.

160 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011

7. El Toro Blanco

257 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014
El Toro Blanco
El Toro Blanco
El Toro Blanco/Facebook

The nachos at this high-end Mexican restaurant, newly helmed by chef Ivy Stark, are only available at happy hour in the bar area, but at $6 (or $8 with protein), they’re a steal. The substantial tortilla chips get dotted with a refined yet indulgent mix of pinto beans, cheddar sauce, Oaxaca cheese, pickled jalapeños, pico de gallo, crumbled queso blanco, and crema.

257 6th Ave
New York, NY 10014

8. Taqueria Diana

129 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Started by Californians in 2013, this small East Village taqueria slings reliable tacos, burritos, and nachos that have gained a cult following, allowing the restaurant to expand across the city. Nachos come in six varieties, splayed out on a metal tray for even topping distribution. The crisp, tender carnitas are heaped on the chips with melted Jack, beans, pickled jalapeños and carrots, salsa, plus optional crema and guacamole. There are additional locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg.

129 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

9. Empellon Al Pastor

132 St Marks Pl, New York, NY, New York, NY 10009
Empellon Al Pastor
Empellon Al Pastor
Empellon Al Pastor/Instagram

Chef-driven nachos might seem gratuitous for what’s basically a game-day food, but the most casual outpost of Alex Stupak’s gourmet Mexican mini-empire has added nachos alongside the signature spit-roasted pork that suit its bar space. The delicate tortilla chips, made fresh daily, get a generous dousing of crema and pico de gallo.

132 St Marks Pl, New York, NY
New York, NY 10009

10. One Stop Beer Shop

134 Kingsland Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
One Stop Beer Shop
One Stop Beer Shop
One Stop Beer Shop/Facebook

The tortilla chips at this cheerful beer-focused bar near the BQE are neither artisanal nor house-fried, but that matters little once they’ve been coated in the abundant portion of juicy pulled pork, pungent white cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole. In warmer months, enjoy them at one of the outside tables with a spicy brew that can stand up to all that flavor.

134 Kingsland Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

11. La Contenta

102 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002
La Contenta
La Contenta
La Contenta

The nachos are as pretty as the intimate environment of this Lower East Side restaurant from chef-owner Luis Arce Mota. They arrive prettily fanned out in a circular pattern with bright vegetables and a triple helping of cheese, including a poblano cheese sauce and melted Monterey and cheddar. There’s an additional location in the West Village.

102 Norfolk St
New York, NY 10002

12. El Vez

259 Vesey St, New York, NY 10282
El Vez Photo by Daniel Krieger

The nachos in this festive Mexican joint from the Starr Restaurants group (Upland, Le Coucou) come with equally colorful names. The Nacho Mama plate ingeniously arranges the thick tortilla chips in a giant single layer, so each bite gets a helping of melted jack cheese, black beans, salsa ranchera, sour cream, and pickled red onion and jalapeño. The Macho Nacho rendition is the same, but adds chorizo.

259 Vesey St
New York, NY 10282

13. The Commodore

366 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
The Commodore
The Commodore
The Commodore/Instagram

This meticulously conceived Williamsburg dive embraces down-home American food with sophisticated twists, from its fried chicken plate to the Cadillac Nachos, a massive pile of fried tortilla chips that are thoroughly layered from top to bottom with piquant cheese sauce, crema, and not one but three salsas. Despite their artery-clogging potential, they also get a vibrant shower of radishes, scallions, and cilantro.

366 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

14. El Kucho

141 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237

This barebones spot in the heart of Bushwick’s hip Jefferson stop area splits its menu between Puebla specialties, like the sauce-soaked pambazo sandwich, and comforting Tex-Mex go-tos. The thin, crispy tortilla chips in the nachos come topped with beans, sour cream, queso blanco, cilantro, onion, and jalapeño, and work nicely with carnitas. Supplement them with the homemade chili con queso, which improves on the tried-and-true Velveeta and Rotel formula with a sharper cheese flavor. The result is both gooey and crunchy.

141 Wilson Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237

15. Gueros

605 Prospect Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Tacos and stiff margaritas are the main draws at this unpretentious Crown Heights taqueria, but the nachos are secret stunners. They’re packed high with all the requisite fixings, including cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and salsa. For a few dollars more, they can be laced with any of the meats available, even fried chicken.

605 Prospect Pl
Brooklyn, NY 11238

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