Tag Archives: Davis Square

At Long Last, the Best Nachos in Boston

12 Jul

You may have noticed a strange lack of nacho related blog posts in your life over the past few months (years?). There are many reasons for this–time, money, meat sweats, dimply-cheese-ass–but one excuse trumps them all: until recently we had absolutely run out of things to say about nachos. Honestly, how many times a week can you write about naked chips and canned jalepenos before you want to kill yourself? Answer: like 1 time. What started out as a hiatus from nachos eventually became a habit and before long we were ready to declare Nacho Patrol legally dead.

But wait, Nacho Patrol writer, you said “until recently” you’d run out of things to say! What nacho could be good enough to lure a more svelte Nacho Patrol out of hiding? That’s right, sports fans: the oft-requested Painted Burro.

Located just down the street from Nacho Patrol World Headquarters in scenic Davis Square, the Painted Burro has been racking up Best Mexican Restaurant awards since they opened. And for good reason. The food is delicious, if on the pricier side, and the margaritas…Oh, the margaritas! May we suggest the cucumber marg? It’s like a cool beach breeze on a hot day in a salty rimmed glass. And the beans! Oh, the beans! Suffice it to say, God in all his glory touched those beans and made them holy. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…Shall we review?

Did you miss our terrible blurry photos?

Did you miss our terrible blurry photos?

NACHOS CON CHORIZO DE LA CASA: guacamole, pork charro beans, cabbage & jalapeno slaw, pimpin’ jalapenos, tres quesos, baja cream, chipotle mayo

  • Appearance (10): a messy melange of Mexican flavors; colorful and fresh; cheesy and gooey. It begs you to dive right in! Per the usual, chorizo is on the side in deference to our vegetarian cohorts.
  • Quality (10): The general consensus at our table was that these nachos tasted like heaven mixed with nachos. If nacho/human marriages were legal (SCOTUS, please get on this), we would propose to this plate and take its last name. The stand out item was the chorizo. It elicited such comments as “Oh man you guys, this chorizo” and “But seriously you guys, this chorizo.” It was perfectly salty and delightfully tender, greasy, but not excessively so, a wonderful alternative to the standard (chicken, pulled pork, steak, chili, etc) nacho proteins we’ve tried over the years. We also loved the cabbage slaw with an emotion that bordered desperation. The crunch and the slight sweetness took the flavors to another level.
  • Distribution (9): From our many years of nacho consumption we know that distribution is one of the hardest categories to master. Painted Burro does a mostly excellent job by serving our ‘chos on a flat plate in a relatively one-dimensional fashion. This allows for maximum coverage and terrific chip-to-topping ratio. We would be remiss if we did not point out that there weren’t quite enough chips for all of the toppings, but luckily we had extra on the table from our chips & salsa.
  • Price (8): Our one complaint was the price. $12.00 for not-the-largest plate of nachos is a lot for the area, but given the quality of ingredients, the overall cost of the restaurant and the general nom-worthiness we think it’s a fine deal.
  • Overall: 37/40 — WTF!??!!??!!

Congratulations to the Painted Burro on winning Nacho Patrol once and for all. We’ve spent years searching for amazing nachos in Boston, but you guys have set a new standard by which all future nachos will most certainly fail.

And with that, we say goodbye:

Nacho Patrol out! #micdrop

Redbones: Hidden Gem

17 May

Redbones, we are forever in your debt. When, after seven hours of plodding, we finished our first annual Walk (Amble) for Hunger, crawled back to Nacho Patrol World Headquarters and found ourselves in dire need of some hearty BBQ, you delivered…for free, and on a bike. The ample array of meat you provided that night gave us the strength to carry on (to the shower and then to bed). We’ve been craving you ever since.  We’ve known for a long time that you had nachos, but the description wasn’t hurrying us out of the house: two kinds of cheese, guac, salsa, jalapenos and sour cream. The bartender Mike (or Eric, we’re not sure) must have agreed with us because he clued us in to the off-menu nachoption with all the above toppings and a heaping pile of pulled pork. From now on, we will always ask, “who can we talk to about nachos?” before we order.

  • Appearance: (8) You wouldn’t see these on Top Chef Masters, but these nachos demanded our gastronomic attention. Don’t you just want to dive in and cover yourself in all that perfectly smoked pulled pork? The burnt chips and sour cream waterfall pulled down the rating a few points, but the guac, tomato, and moist mountain of meat all but makes up for any shortcomings.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (9) We recorded our thoughts mid-nacho patrol, but we couldn’t hear anything over the sound of reckless crunching. The chips were thick–almost pita chip-like–and we could easily ignore the burntness (though they were a little under-salted). The tomatoes were fresh, and we enjoyed the guac, though we doubt it was homemade. As you could probably predict, the meat was the real stand-out of these chos. Oh-so-moist, oh-so-succulent, oh-so-flavorful! We were torn over whether or not we wanted a sauce…Oh, the selection of sauces! In our experience, BBQ sauce doesn’t go well with the overall palate of ‘chos, and it would probably be a shame to cover up the perfectly seasoned pork.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (7) New restaurant, same distribution problems. Naked chips, sparse cheese, and a sour cream avalanche that smothers everything toward the bottom of the plate. Dare we say it, but there were perhaps too many toppings and not enough chips!
  • Price: (7.5) The one flaw of off-menu-Groupon-nachos is that you have no idea what they cost. After some shaky math, we estimate they were about $13, which is a lot by Nacho Patrol standards, but cheap in the grand scheme of BBQ.
  • Overall: 31.5/40.

You should never order off the “American”menu at a Chinese restaurant, and you should never order anything but BBQ at Redbones.  So, while we wholeheartedly endorse these nachos, we implore you, don’t even bother unless you get them with the off-menu pulled pork.   It’s shocking and disappointing that Redbones doesn’t even list pork nachos as an option.  So for now, we are classifying these as “specialty nachos”, separate from the Best of Boston list.  Redbones, if you want to be a contender, put these on the menu!

Orleans: Idaho Nachos; or White Trash-os, Part Deux

9 Apr

We should have know what we were getting ourselves into when our waiter at Orleans (Davis Square) actually cautioned us that the Idaho Nachos came with an American cheese spread rather than traditional queso sauce. Usually we only expect puffer fish to come with a disclaimer, but apparently Orleans thinks these nachos are just as deadly. Probably because they have the nutritional information.

Awhile back, we invented the life-shortening sodium spree known as The White Trash-os. Using Fritos, hot dogs, pork & beans, and jarred queso sauce, we assassinated our arteries while bringing back those oh-so-pleasant memories of family trips to the Ozarks. Orleans’ “Idaho Nachos” might be the slightly higher class version of those (and we really mean only slightly): potato chips, soaked with “an American cheese spread,” and drizzled with bacon bits, tomatoes, and green onions.

  • Appearance: (8) Low-end never looked so haute cuisine!  Beautifully plated in a large bowl with colorful confetti of garnishes, these caught us off guard with their loveliness.
  • Quality of toppings: (3.5) We can’t legally give a score over 4 for any dish that has “an American cheese spread,” though since we were expecting it, the whole experience seemed marginally better. While we kind of like the understated quality of the sauce, it wasn’t strong enough to be the main feature of the dish and we really needed some other element to pump up the flavors and give us an experience other than salty. The bacon added a kick–a nice kick of carbon, as it was completely overcooked. All of that processed goodness left us fighting for the spare tomatoes and green onions on the plate. The real problem here, however, was the chips which were initially stale tasting and toward the end soggy and greasy. Not a good progression!
  • Distribution of toppings: (6) Cheese sauce has notoriously good distribution, starting out on the top layer and slowly soaking its way to the bottom to fully coat everything. But even that couldn’t help the sad lack of toppings or central focus.
  • Price: (9) Ah, Somerville…Leave the Boston/Cambridge area, and suddenly, a plate of nachos costs $8. What a cheesy, greasy steal!
  • Overall: 26.5/40

We appreciate a restaurant that will take a risk on a specialty nacho, but we probably won’t order these again. Idaho Nachos or Irish Nachos are a great idea, but this particular plate just wasn’t inspired. Give us one more strong ingredient that compliments the cheese sauce rather than puts it front-and-center, and we’ll talk again.