Have you ever been to one of those places such as Santa Cruz’s Mystery Spot or any other “Gravity Hill” where the laws of physics and gravity seem to run backwards? Up is down, left is right, water flows uphill, and tourists are exploited by the optical illusion mastery of carnie folks? Well I’ve been to one of those for nachos, and it’s Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina.
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering is the painting of Pope John Paul II being comforted by the Virgin Mary behind the hostess. Now I realize that it's a lot of work to get someone in to update your painting, but they're two Popes behind at this point. Sure, Ratzenburg probably would have turned people off from eating looking all creepy and all, but maybe you don't have a painting of The Pope as your restaurant centerpiece in the first place. Unless it’s Pope’s Pizza, but that would be a picture of The Pizza Pope being comforted by a giant slice of pie.
Unsurprisingly they had nachos, because if you think I don't check that out before I decide whether or not to go to a restaurant you must be out of your mind. Plus why would I be writing about a place if they didn't, other than that one Mexican place that didn’t that I wrote about because that was the very point of writing about it. What was a pleasant surprise however were their "jumbo" margaritas. Imagine a Scorpion Bowl, only served in a giant margarita glass, and instead of a rum/vodka/gin mess it's a delicious tequila disaster. Unfortunately even this could not make up for the disaster that was to be the strangest order of nachos I've ever encountered.
The nachos that arrived were your common fajita nachos, nothing out of the ordinary, but as I raised the first chip from the plate, the madness began. I had selected a prime chip candidate, one with a nice ratio of cheese and toppings, but upon lifting it all those bailed leaving a bare corn triangle. Unusual, I thought to myself, selecting another chip, only to have it come away bare as the first. Chip after topping covered chip shed their tasty passengers as somehow the laws of physics had gone haywire resulting in cheese refusing to stick to chips.
Now, if the cheese had been super oily I could see that possibly causing the lack of affixation, but that wasn’t the case as the bottom of the plate was free if its telltale sheen. It is possible that the cheese and toppings were cooked separately, which could explain why the vegetables were more chewy than crunchy, and then dropped, fully cooked, on the chips after the fact, but that is insane. Eventually I had eaten every chip, all of them free of anything but chip, and was left with only a pile of unsatisfying nacho skin. It was the strangest damn thing I ever seen.
So if you’ve had one of their buckets of margarita and think that some nachos might be a good idea, “ixtap”. Perhaps just the stars were right and some strange rays from Carcosa or Yuggoth disrupted the integrity of the cheese/chip relationship, or maybe the cheese and chips were just subpar, but I'd give these bad boys a pass, especially when there's a far stranger dish you can try. Allow me to introduce the Pescado Frito. What a fish indeed!
And you have no idea the restraint it took to only make one joke where I use “ixtap” when I mean “stop” in this review.