Tag Archives: Comm Ave

Classics Revisited: Harry’s Bar and Grill

6 Aug

A year and a half ago, a little bar named Harry’s unexpectedly stole our nacho-loving hearts.  Coming from out of nowhere, this unassuming place gave us a plate that powered past nearly all of Boston’s nacho behemoths with its delicious flavors and artful distribution.  We have since returned many times, but never for the nachos.  Why?  Fear– fear that these were too good to be true, that we were wrong in awarding the silver medal of Boston nachos.  Also, we maybe had heard some negative reports.  Determined to nut up and do the right thing, we returned to Harry’s on the eve of our departure from the neighborhood, to either confirm their brilliance or set the record straight.

  • Appearance: (8) Much has changed from our original review!  Gone are the tri-colored chips, but to more than make up for it, guacamole, green onions and a tantalizingly non-sour cream dip on the side. Chili is now on the top, instead of in the middle under a helmet of cheese.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (9) As could be guessed from their fancied-up color scheme, practically every ingredient in these nachos had changed, generally for the better. The chili had a distinct, chocolaty mole flavor, something we rarely encountered.  The orange sauce on the side turned out to be a chipotle cream/mayo concoction, much more exciting that its sour cream predecessor.  Even the salsa was miles ahead of the canned stuff of yore– thin, fresh, and reminiscent of both gazpacho and our recent trip to Brighton Beer Garden (perhaps these two are in cahoots?). As before, the chili presented a kidney bean extravaganza, but gone were the black olives.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (8) Here Harry’s has completely changed their approach, trading in the “molten chili center” method for the more traditional “chili hat” distribution.  This created a few more problems with distribution, making it sometimes hard to get at sodden chips, and hiding the true melted cheese magnitude. Indeed, there was a lot of cheese but most of it near the bottom and some even stuck to the plate (it appears the Gospel of John Harvard’s is spreading!)
  • Price: (8.5) What is it with restaurants not having a website? Our blueberry beer-addled brains have failed us.  They are only listed without chili, at $7. We’re guestimating on this one.
  • Total: 33.5/40.  While they have moved down out of medal contention, we’ll still think of these as winners any day.  In an era where restaurants seem to be cheapening and dumbing down their nachos, Harry’s has upped their game with bold, original ingredients.  Hurray!

Zocalo Cocina Mexicana: Parental Patrol

27 Dec

Of all the many, many reasons we have an epic, undying love for nachos, perhaps most importantly of all, nachos bring people together.  They are the quintessential sharing food, as it is difficult and often inadvisable to eat nachos alone.  Nacho reviewing is the perfect activity to engage in with old friends, new friends, or with one with whom one wishes to become more than friends.  It is especially good to engage in with parents, as it can provide needed conversational respite from all those pesky questions about your “future” and and “job prospects”, in addition to making you seem like you’ve done something with your life since you at least have your own URL.  Yes, a nachos were definitely in the cards when 2/5 of our parents (you do the math) rolled into town for Christmas.  But no ordinary nachopatrol would do: these people are card-carrying members of the extra-virgin-olive-oil, baby-arugula-and-heirloom-tomato, artisanal-goat-cheese-drizzled-with-balsamic-reduction club.  There is no way they would be cool slumming it at the Pour House, no matter how cheesy the nachos.  So, we set out to find some upper-crust, high-fallutin’ nachos to share!

Enter Zocalo Cocina Mexicana.  Conveniently located just a short walk from Nacho Patrol World Headquarters, Zocalo is a bright, colorful restaurant peppered with wacky Oaxacan statues.  On top of their fantastic margaritas, multiple varieties of sangria, and downright delicious food, Zocalo offers tableside preparation of guacamole and ceviche, which is an opportunity not to be missed.  Yes, for a mere $8.50, a burly man will wheel his cart over to your table and make short work of limes, chili, and more avocados than you would like to think you can ingest, then present it to your table in a giant stone crock.  ¡Shazam!  We also went for the Nachos Supremo, with steak:

  • Appearance: ( 8 )A bright kaleidoscope of colors and textures, a little lacking in the green but that could be helped by a little guacamole.  We did notice that some of the cheese did not seem to be completely melted…
  • Quality of Ingredients: (8 ) The chips, the same ones brought out in a complimentary basket with salsa, were just OK…it was hard to tell if they were house made or not.  The beef, on the other hand, was delicious, in little chunks of tender steak.  Black beans and pico de gallo added nice little pops of flavor.  The jalapenos were actually edible for us gringos, and added a nice spicy flavor.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (6) The cheese could definitely have been melted more, which would have added a little extra glue to keep the toppings on the chips.  Overall, because they didn’t have chili, these were a rather dry nacho, but the flavor of the ingredients more than made up for it.  There was no layering, but these were rather flat, and we could use the naked chips underneath to scoop up the extra toppings.
  • Price: (9) At only $8.50 (with steak!), these nachos are a steal, especially for this restaurant.  Not too huge, but they make up for it in taste.
  • Overall: 31.  A pretty darn good nacho, but not as delicious or exciting as many of the other items on the menu.  Still, mission accomplished, parents impressed!

The Avenue: Places We Hate To Admit We’ve Been (Part 1)

9 Jun

AvenueIf you’ve ever been to Allston, Massachusetts, you know it isn’t exactly a high class destination. On an average Wednesday night, you’re liable to see more than a few coeds passed out in bushes and your fair share of homeless drunks. Yes, Nacho Patrol loves Allston. They love it so much that they avoid it all costs. They go out of their way to drive around it and they tend to block out any ineluctable visits, mentally categorizing them as traumatic life events. As one might guess, this has made Patrolling our most recent nacho destination, The Avenue, all the more difficult.

The Avenue has everything you might expect from a “college bar.” $1.50 drafts of shitty beer, extreme fighting on one television and bikini models on another, unlimited opportunities for bromance, and copious drunk thugs attempting to hit on you (places we’d recommend Doc Martens and a burka–check). They boast having “like a hundred” taps (according to our waitress), but in reality have about 20, at least 1/5 of them Budweiser products. But for the nacho connoiseur, they also have a nice selection of nachos–everything from your average cheese to your more advanced chicken and chili. On this particular Sunday night, the six of us enjoyed the chili nachos (they were out of gauc…how sad).

Disclaimer: It was far into the night, and we have little recollection of the details of these nachos, save for a very dark photo on a cellphone and a memory of general satisfaction.

  • Appearance: ( 8 ) Pretty tasty-looking?
  • Quality of Ingredients: (6) Everything was good, but the chili was too watery making the chips moist and floppy. It also was rather flavorless–something you could easily make at home.
  • Distribution of Toppings: ( 8 ) more cheese than you can shake a stick at made for excellent distribution. We wished they had guac, but as Skyler confessed, we “like that they have lots of cheese.”
  • Price: ( 7 ) $10 split 6 ways
  • Overall: (29) Good, but not very memorable.  Part of that may be our problem, though we venture that many of the people who eat the nachos here will be in the same state.