You know what Boston needs more of? Establishments where ordering your beer in a comically large novelty glass is a viable option. So when the Yard House (henceforth to be read as “Yaaaaahhd House”) arrived in Fenway, we were jazzed. The world’s largest menu? Check. Full two pages of beers? Double check. And the ability to order beers by distance instead of volume? Sign us up! Adding to the excitement, the night that we attended was “Harpoon Rare Beer Night”, allowing us to sample all sorts of magical concoctions that we hope will soon make it to bars on a regular basis (Bacon Bock, anyone?). To pad our beer we ordered the Yard House chicken nachos, with spicy pinto beans, cheddar, jack, red & green sauce, tomato, cilantro, onions, guacamole and sour cream.
- Appearance: (8) First off, what is it with chain restaurants and flat nachos? See Pizzeria Uno. Very pretty, with lots of nice colors. We were a little perplexed by the ~3 blue corn chips that we saw on the plate– were those intentional or did they sneak in from somewhere else in the kitchen? And, #thingswenormallyaskduringlobsternight, what is that green stuff?
- Quality of Ingredients: (8) The green stuff turned out to be green chile sauce, which was quite tasty and something we haven’t seen on nachos in a while. We greatly enjoyed the pinto beans, and found the chunks of chicken to be rather well seasoned and not too dry. While it tasted OK, the guac was definitely not homemade.
- Distribution of Toppings: (7) Flat nachos have their benefits, including a generally equitable distribution of toppings. These were no exception, and the full coverage was also aided by the viscous chile sauces and saucy pinto beans. However, these nachos deteriorated quickly upon reaching the table. You know how on some lucky occasions the nachos arrive at your table with sizzling and boiling cheese? This was not one of those times. The cheese was on its way to congealing when we got them and continued on that path. The chips on the bottom, and those exposed to a lot of chile sauce, turned quite floppy. Perhaps Yard House should look into the Vito’s Tavern black bean scaffolding approach to distribution?
- Price: (7) $11 and easily demolished by two as a reasonable dinner.
- Overall: 30/40. Another solid addition to the Fenway nacho roster. We would highly recommend a visit, if not for the nachos, to gawk at the massive menu and epic beer list.
We normally avoid the North End like overpriced, overtouristed area should be avoided, but also because even if we did manage to find Italian nachos, they would probably be terrible. After a mediocre experience at Anchovies and a downright disastrous attempt at making our own pizza-inspired ‘chos, we had little hope. But hunger goes hand in hand with poor judgement, so we found ourselves at the semi-new Vito’s Tavern in the North End, to try their ‘Bruzzese Sausage nachos, with “the usual.”
- Appearance: (8) Ooze is the name of the game here, as we immediately spot the double-team of cheese AND cheese sauce. Red-white-green toppings were very appropriate, considering the neighborhood.
- Quality of Ingredients: (7) Even without our most cheese-sauce-friendly correspondent in tow, we had good things to say about the cheese sauce. It was right on the border of homemade-or-not, enough so that we still aren’t sure if it was from a can or the kitchen. The chips were also debatably made in-house. Guacamole was fresh, heavy on the red onion, and the salsa was more of a pico of fresh veggies. We enjoyed the Italian sausage, though larger pieces might have made a bigger impact on the palate.
- Distribution of Toppings: (8) Vito’s employed a distribution tactic we had never seen before– a layer of black beans on the bottom of the plate, but nowhere else. We found this a little odd until we considered that the beans elevated the chips enough to keep them from getting totally sodden in cheese sauce. Was this intentional? Unknown, but it did work. As could be expected, the combination of cheese and queso sauce left practically no chip untouched.
- Price: (8) At $11, these provided an ample amount of heart-stopping goodness for two people.
- Overall: 31/40. These were more Italian-inspired than a direct translation, earning them a place in the Best of Boston rather than the Specialty Nacho category. But who cares? They were pretty darn tasty. We are curious to come back and try the vegetarian nachos, with roasted and sauteed veggies.
South Boston may seem a little off the beaten path, and indeed had long been off our nacho radar. However, only the briefest of internet searches reveals that Southie is a veritable treasure trove of virgin nacho destinations (except for the Boston Beer Garden, which considering it is related to both great and terrible nacho destinations Brighton Beer Garden, the assorted Taverns in the Squares, Joshua Tree and Shitty Side, is something we will only approach with great caution). In the interested of breaking new ground (and evening out the north-heavy Nacho Map), we ventured to The Stadium for some nachos and beeyah. As much of a sports bar as you will ever find (the waitresses wear modified soccer uniforms, which, upon consideration, doesn’t make a lot of sense for an American sports bar), The Stadium was pleasantly uncrowded despite an impending Bruins playoff game. And thence came the nachos:
- Appearance: (7) Very colorful, but in an unsettling way. Only canned condiments and pre-made chips are ever that bright.
- Quality of Ingredients: (5) Jarred salsa, guacamole from a bucket, and the chips, while colorful, were a little stale. The chili was good but had a strange hint of summer sausage flavor, which, while not unpleasant, was a little odd. We were puzzled by the sour cream, which appeared to have some sort of chives mixed in, but with no discernible effect on the flavor.
- Distribution of Toppings: (6) While there was a fair amount of chili, the cheese was not entirely melted, which hampered distribution.
- Price: (8.3) In this age of nacho inflation, it’s nice to see a sizable plate of nachos, with chili for only $10.
- Overall: 26.3. These nachos were exactly what we expected from the place, nothing more, nothing less. Edible, even enjoyable, but worth neither a long review or a return visit.
No one’s first time is all that great, right? On to bigger and better Southie nachos!