Tag Archives: Sunset

Sunset Cantina’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip

15 Apr

By now you should probably be sick of Sunset. After three separate reviews, we’re a little tired of it too.  But when a VIP like Bunky rolls into town, it calls for three things: intense Lost discussions, spinach artichoke dip and coconut-lime margaritas, all of which can be had at Sunset Cantina (the Grill & Tap, which we also enjoy, just doesn’t have the marg power that we need). While not explicitly called nachos on the menu, these are nacho enough for us, with pita chips covered in melted cheese, black olives, chopped tomatoes and creamy spinach and artichoke dip.

  • Appearance: (6.5) Me oh my! Not the traditional color palette and the pitas look a little burnt around the edges, but did you see that avalanche of melted cheese nearly spilling off the plate? Days later, we’re still drooling.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (9) Even when overdone, the pita chips are still delicious, thick and hearty enough to really handle the spinach artichoke dip on top.  The cheese was excellently melted, and the tomatoes and olives did a nice job adding some variety in texture and flavor.  The spin dip was delicious but we were a little weirded out that it was cold, not warm.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (7) Last time we ate these, we had to ask for some extra spin dip on the side because there was simply not enough to go around.  We should have remembered that this time because once the glop on dip on top was taken care of, we were left with scores of blank pitas. Had the dip been warm, it might have spread out a bit more and been slightly more accessible, but as it was, there simply wasn’t enough to go around.
  • Price: ( 8 ) $8.89 is a steal when compared to the $12-$13 nachos, and as an appetizer, there was certainly enough to go around.
  • Overall: 30.5/40 Once again, a specialty “nacho” makes a serious mark on our official nacho tally. Maybe they’re not as good as Sunset’s nachos, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more creamy, the spin dip might just be the the appetizer for you.

2009 Nacho Round-up

10 Jan

Well folks, it’s been quite a year, especially in the world of nachos.  After 12 months, 62 reviews, and approximately 7,428,391 calories, we’re reflecting on our year, and this is what we have found:

Fenway News: After a year and half of dedicated reviewing, we can safely say that there simply aren’t good nachos in the Fenway area. Trust us, we have done the leg work. After our disastrous 2008 review at Beer Works (23), we didn’t have much luck at Lower Depths (27), Cask & Flagon (28), or at Fenway (18) itself. The closest we came was Uno’s (30), and since it’s a chain, we tend to not count it as an independent “Fenway area” bar. In short, stick to hot wings, Bud Light, and street vendors. It’s what Fenway does best.

Boylston News: Avid readers will know that we’ve tackled many of the most famous restaurants on Boylston Street in something we’ve called the five-part Official Boylston Epic. This doesn’t include anything in on Newbury or the surrounding area…not that there’s much going on to mention. To be honest, everything is overshadowed by Pour House (number 1 with 36!), but if we had to recommend others, we’d probably have to go with Whiskey’s (29) and their extra spicy chili and Cactus Club’s (29) super cheesy nachos.

Best “Foreign”: Over the year, our crack team of Foreign Correspondents has circled the globe in hope of finding good nachos. So far…well, take a look for yourself. Apparently, the farther you get from Mexico, the worse they get. The two bright spots have to be Jordan’s (31) Irish Specialty Nachos just outside of Denver University and the Big Four Nachos at Bryant Lake Bowl (30) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Best Specialty: sometimes, getting away from the typical bar nacho can be an enlightening experience, and after all the great specialty nachos we’ve had this year, we feel practically blissful!

  1. Big City Mediterranean Nachos (34): pita chips covered with spinach and artichoke dip, jack and feta cheese, chopped balsamic tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, and hummus on the side. Greek and unique!
  2. Christopher’s Yuppie Nachos (31): sour cream, guacamole, jack and cheddar cheeses, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. It makes our mouths water just thinking about it!
  3. Jordan’s Irish Nachos (32): kettle-fried potato chips topped with corned beef, swiss cheese, horseradish dijon, tomatoes and scallions. If your nachos aren’t fattening enough, get them with potato chips.

Best bar nachos: Let’s start off first with a definition–bar nachos are any plate with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese (or equivalent), chili or chicken (or similar protein), salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Maybe some jalapenos and black olives for good measure. That said, we can say unequivocally that Sunset Cantina and Sunset Grill & Tap (35) have the best, most reliably good bar nachos around. With a variety of interesting proteins and an eye for brilliant distribution, we have never been disappointed with Sunset nachos. Our only complaint is the shredded lettuce on top. However, the keenest readers among you will notice that we’ve given Harry’s Bar and Grill (35.5) a higher total score. All we can say is that this score is up for reevaluation after a particularly unpleasant nacho experience we had at the aforementioned bar…Nonetheless, we will leave it up for the time being.

Excellence in Mexicana: no, nachos aren’t Mexican. We’ll admit it…begrudgingly. Nonetheless, 2009 saw some great nachos at Boston’s “Mexican” restaurants. Cantina La Mexicana (32) in Union Square and Cafe Sol Azteca (32) on the edge of Boston University campus may have had tied scores, but we’ve got to give Cantina the number one spot simply for their amazing waitstaff. Still, both restaurants had great foods, great drinks, and a great atmosphere. Viva Mexico!

Best Nachos on a Mediocre Internet Date: Cambridge Common (31). Self explanatory.

Best Nachos with Cheese Sauce: Nachopatrol is divided on the issue of cheese sauce.  Some like it, some hate it, but all came together to hail the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill (28) for their legitimately cheesy, obviously homemade sauce.  Although their sauce tasted from a can, the friendliness and persistence in following our blog that the fine people of JJ Foley’s (also 28) have demonstrated gives them an honorable mention.

Biggest Disappointments/Hall of Shame: Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (21).  After bragging about their nachos, and hearing about them from many others, we were disgusted to find a towering inferno of burned, greasy chips and lackluster toppings. Sometimes we can be accused to bias, but in the case of the CCC, the coffin has been shut, nailed closed, burned, and the ashes buried under six feet of earth. We will never return.

Nacho Patrol of the Year: Every now and then we get on our knees and thank the stars that Border Cafe (32) in Harvard Square exists, so maybe it’s not surprising that most fun we’ve ever had while Nacho Patrolling was at this upbeat, friendly, and always-packed Tex-Mex restaurant. And that’s not just the margs talking! After order $15 worth of dips and sides, we created our own nacho plate, and even got a manager to discuss with us why a Tex-Mex joint doesn’t have nachos. As she explained it, Border only deals in “original” Tex-Mex. We’re still not sure what that means–it must be ego that allows them to call enchiladas and fajitas original. But whatever. It was worth the doubting looks. Bring back Cholula and we’ll be there every day.

Review of the Year: It goes without saying that our favorite review had to be of Nachopalooza ’09. What will become a yearly tradition (and by yearly, we mean weekly), Nachopalooza allowed us to express our nacho love with our 20 closest friends, while drinking jello shots (SPRING BREAK) and taking pictures with our homemade Carson Daly. So, if you’re thinking of hosting your own very classy, very tasty nacho party, read our syllabus.

2009’s Most Controversial Nacho: The review hasn’t been posted yet, but trust us. It will get violent.

Best Comment: This year’s comment award was a tie between Mama S, who hated our blog so much it made her puke and the good people of J.J. Foley’s, who gave us hope that perhaps our reviews will one day change the world of nachos. Unfortunately, Andi was the tie-breaker, and because of a possible conflict of interest (Mama S=her mom), she had to bow out of the race.

Worst: That’s right, these are our worst nachos of the year. Avoid like SARS (or maybe Swine Flu)…

  1. Other Side (17): Technically, The Other Side had a higher score than El Paso and Casa Bonita, but we hate it so much that we gave it the honorable position of #1 Worst Nacho Anywhere in the World. Congrats, you over-rated piece of shit, hipster hell hole.
  2. Casa Bonita (10): The lowest nacho score to date, but no one was expecting much.
  3. El Paso (15): Only slightly better than a poke in the eye.
  4. White Horse (21):  We’re ashamed to admit we even considered this American-cheese monstrosity.
  5. Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (21): A low-down, dirty punch to the aorta.

Top Ten Nachos of 2009:

  1. Harry’s
  2. Sunset
  3. Big City Mediterranean Nachos
  4. Fajita’s and ‘Ritas
  5. Cantina La Mexicana
  6. Sol Azteca
  7. Crossroads
  8. Cambridge Common
  9. Christopher’s Yuppie Nachos
  10. Bryant Lake Bowl

Big City’s Mediterranean Nachos: My (not so) Big Fat Greek-Inspired Specialty Nacho

13 Sep

Just when we thought an old dog was all out of tricks, along come these bad boys. The Sunset-Industrial Complex has already filled our bellies and our pages on three separate occasions, and we were suffering from nacho-induced fatigue. Fortunately, Big City came along and renewed our passion for the sport with arguably their best contribution to the nacho canon so far, the Mediterranean Nacho: pita chips covered with spinach and artichoke dip, jack and feta cheese, chopped balsamic tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, and hummus on the side.


  • Appearance: (7) Grainy photo aside, compact pile of temptation and deliciousness. Not as gooey as traditional nachos, but that often comes with the territory. Colors were a little muted, perhaps bordering on sickly. As with many things in life, much of the fun of specialty nachos is in the discovery, and we were eager to get to know these (Biblically?? -Ed.)
  • Quality of Ingredients: (10) On the whole, everything was delicious. With so many unique flavors floating around on the plate, each bite was an adventure. The tomatoes, peppers and olives provided a nice texture contrast to the creaminess of the cheese and spinach dip. The hummus was particularly delicious, some of the best we have ever tasted.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (9) Sunset (and by extension Big City) knows how to layer. There was a definite secondary cheese layer underneath which filled us with glee. Even without such exceptional layering, these nachos could have survived: pita chips on their own are far more entertaining to the palate than tortilla chips, and the hummus for dipping was sublime. The cheese ratio was well thought out– it was about 2/3 jack, the rest feta, providing just the right amount of flavor and texture.
  • Price: (8) Nine bucks for a delicious, memorable and manageable plate of nachos.
  • Overall: 34. The best specialty nacho we have ever seen would undoubtedly hold its own in the big leagues as well.