Every region of the united States has its own preferred version of, “Applebee's, but for Mexican food”. Cantina Mariachi, Chi-Chi's, Chilis, Don Pablo's, El Fenix, El Torito, On The Border, all these meet that definition in casual Mexican dining world. In New England we have Margaritas, and boy oh boy did I drink a lot of their namesake there in college. What I did not do though was sample their nachos with the same gusto, and that needed to be rectified.
Going on National Margarita Day was obviously the right day to visit drinkwise, and every day is the right day to visit nachowise, so I knew I was in good hands. After a margarita flight the menu greeted me with three different options for the dish: Nachos El Deluxo, Nachos Cowabunga (not available in all locations), and Tomato Garlic Nachos. Since I was neither a ninja turtle or needing to kiss a vampire to death, I opted for the “El Deluxo”.
Just naming these “Nachos” is perhaps the only more generic name for an order of the dish than “Nachos el Deluxo”, and these were about as generic an order as you could imagine. I knew what I was getting into, I read the menu and decided refried beans, cheese, chilies, guac and sour cream was enough for me that evening. This isn’t a case of being mad at a hamburger for not being a hot dog, I knew I was getting basic ‘chos here, but I really expected there to be SOMETHING more to them. Yes, an extremely generous amount of refried beans and cheese is something, but so is flavor, and there wasn’t nearly enough of that to wake up my taste buds.
As delicious as melted cheese on chips is, there needs to be more of what Emeril Lagasse referred to as “BAM” to them. There’s a reason that Ignacio Anaya put sliced jalapenos on the original nachos, and it was to give them a little spicy zip when you eat them. On the “El Deluxo” you have some chips and melted cheese, both fine, but when you add just some boring ol’ refried beans the “meh” train continues. I don’t know if there were supposed to be some spices mixed in with the beans that were forgotten, but if they had put something to give them a little pizazz that would go a long way towards making them better. I don’t need a Mountain Dew Code Red level of EXTREME here, but these nachos didn’t even have the dust blown off them. That’s metaphorical dust mind you, these were definitely hot and freshly made as warned by the waiter.
Lesson learned on these. If your elderly sainted grandmother who can’t handle spicy or flavorful food due to issues you don’t really want to inquire about is wanting some nachos, get these. If you want something more flavorful go for the Cowabunga (if available at your location) or the Tomato Garlic, as the former is a lot more topping heavy, and the later is garlic. I sure wish I did.