Tag Archives: cheap

Fajitas and ‘Ritas: Food for Thought

30 Aug

In the desert of overpriced, overtouristed downtown dining destinations, Fajitas and ‘Ritas is a welcome oasis of cheap, purposely tacky goodness. Bright Mexican-themed murals cover the walls, the tables are covered with butcher paper for easy cleanup, and the menu…well, it is unlike anything we have ever seen before. If a sushi menu and Massachusetts RMV form #837-B ran off to Mexico to have a love child, this is what it would resemble. Rather than having a waitress verbally take the order, this fine dining establishment provides each table with a form listing the entire menu, drinks and all; you simply check off the things you want, and the waitress takes it to the kitchen. It is even made of carbon paper, so that one copy is left at the restaurant and another can be taken home with you. In the case of the nachos, the base of chips and cheese is provided, and you choose what toppings you would like to include by circling them on a list. Mad with our newfound power, we went a little crazy…

Nacho plate #1 consisted of chicken, refried beans, guacamole and black olives:

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After thoroughly enjoying this plate, (and with the relief of a third reviewer coming to join), we decided to throw our hats into the ring for round #2: Steak and chili.
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  • Appearance: (9)Cheesy deliciousness all over the place, with barely a chip or topping poking through. A massive glop of guacamole and the black olives added a nice touch of color to the first plate. Like a cool pool on a hot summer day, we wanted to dive right in.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (9) Almost all of the toppings were very high quality. Both the steak and the chicken were tender, moist and deliciously seasoned. The refried beans and chili could have definitely held their own as the central ingredient of the nacho plate. The cheese stayed melty and inviting until the very end. Even the guac, though clearly not homemade, was fresh and zesty. The chips were the biggest downfall: A bit too dense, and lacking in full-bodied flavor.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (7) The sheer volume of cheese covering both plates of nachos made a low distribution score nigh impossible. Still, there was little effort put into layering: it was just chips under toppings under cheese. Whether through foresight or stinginess, these nachos were relatively flat, making multiple layers welcome but not essential.
  • Price: (8) Chips and cheese started at $3.10, with each topping incurring an additional cost. These, for the most part, were pretty reasonably priced, and while we don’t remember exactly how much each plate cost, the total for two not-insignificant plates of nachos and a liter of sangria came to $30. Amen to that!
  • Overall: 33/40. Aside from being delicious, these nachos got us thinking, about choice, free will, and their effect on both the human condition and on nachos. Never, aside from our own attempts at nacho construction, have we had such free reign over the content of our nachos. It is illuminating to have all of one’s choices presented in bullet points with relative prices attached; it makes one realize just what is important in nachos. While we enjoy tomatoes, we decided to skip them and the corresponding additional $0.95 in lieu of other things. The same went for sour cream, jalapenos, etc. Were these nachos better off for that? It is difficult to say. Non-essential does not imply non-beneficial; while we may not particularly enjoy many of the things on our nachos, sometimes it takes their absence to really appreciate them. These nachos were a wonderful, worthwhile, memorable event; but they did remind us that often, in nachos as in life, it is not reaching the ultimate goal so much as the details of the journey that make it so grand.
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Harry’s Bar and Grill: The Seabiscuit of Nachos

16 Feb

dsc03092February 5th, 2009: a day of epic nacho adventures, a day of nacho brilliance. Also, really really cold. Tag-teaming the pursuit for the perfect nacho, Nacho Patrol split up, one illustrious team tackling the world of post-Celtics-letdown nachos, while the other adventurers traipsed carefully over the ice fields of Brighton/Brookline to Harry’s Bar and Grill, a loud little sports bar located conveniently off the Warren St. T-stop. And though Skyler and Andi didn’t get to wear their favorite shoes (after seeing the thermometer, “feels like -2 degrees,” their choice of accoutrement quickly evolved from hot dresses and high heels to long underwear, jeans, and hiking boots), the two have a feeling that they made a wise choice in nacho locale.

  • Appearance: ( 7.5 ) No, these nachos weren’t exactly lookers. We’ve seen this layout before–a generous hump of chips coated in a helmet of melted cheddar. Sour cream and salsa were in little cups on either side. The one flaw: the cheese was a little burnt, resulting in a somewhat unappetizing first bite and thus our first note-worthy observation of the evening: starting off slow, these nachos do finish strong, thus earning the illustrious title, the Sea-Biscuit Award for Excellence in Race-Like Photo Finishes. Just a few less seconds in the oven, and these nachos might have got a 10 for appearance.
  • Quality of ingredients: (9) Yum Yum Yum! Nacho Patrol is impressed! “There are kidney beans!” exclaimed Skyler. “These are really good black olives!” Skyler yelled in jubilation. (For the record, I was yelling over loud music. But the olives really were startlingly delicious. –Skyler). Good, light tri-colored chips, unexpectedly delicious homemade salsa, wonderful guacamole and really good chili.  Even the jalapenos were good, and we don’t even like jalapenos!  Nothing was very salty, but there was so much flavor in everything that we didn’t even mind.
  • Distribution of ingredients: (9) Only one layer of cheese often sends us running for the hills, but these nachos had enough going on under the surface to make everything alright.  Instead of being on top, the chili was poured in the middle, eliminating any naked chips.  Indeed, it was difficult to find chips with which to sample the salsa.  Somehow, this unorthodox distribution worked, and deliciously so.
  • Price: (10) Something like $7.50 for an excellent plate of nachos is something we can absolutely get behind.  Two of us managed to finish it with only minor difficulty
  • Overall: 35.5.  On paper, these nachos are all wrong.  We expected little from them but were blown away when they won over our hearts and stomachs.  As we kept eating, they kept getting better: passing Beantown Pub, then Sol Azteca, then, when no one thought it possible, even Sunset Cantina itself.  It was a stunning come-from-behind victory, too good to be true, and although they did not make it to the absolute top of the nacho standings, they will forever be remembered as a stellar competitor.

Nacho Patrol aims to approach every review with an open and unbiased mind. However, it is a rare and magnificent day when we are truly surprised. You know it must be good when we must re-jigger our rating system to include decimals.