The Taste Bud: The Ultimate Nachos Incident

Usually, I can take or leave nachos. You know, they’re always about the same — lots of tortilla chips, some cheese, maybe some jalapenos and sour cream. Not bad, to be sure, but it’s been done to death.

Recently, however, I happened to be at The Back Door in the Highlands for a friend’s birthday gathering, and she ordered the “Ultimate Nachos” to share with the table. Sure, I thought. Ultimate Nachos. Whatever.

I stand corrected.

I usually get the fries with cheese sauce when I’m kicking it at The Back Door, or maybe the Back Burner Bombers (delicious), but these nachos really got my attention. When the appetizer came out, I was literally stunned for a second. I mean, this was a huge pile of … stuff. Sides of guacamole, sour cream and salsa adorned the flat tray of nachos, and I swear the pile looked like it was nearly a foot high. I grabbed a chip, and the rest was a blur.

I went back again a couple of weeks later to revisit the experience and pay closer attention, and I was not disappointed. My pal Sara brought the huge nacho mountain to our table, and I experienced a bit of déjà vu — the same conglomerate of red, white and blue corn tortilla chips topped with a variety of ingredients that one truly has to study in order to take a full inventory.

Before anyone could start munching, I asked the folks at the table how many chips they thought were under the nacho cheese, shredded cheese, jalapenos and chunks of grilled chicken. I received guesses ranging from 47 to 127, but suffice to say, six or seven of us chowed down on this platter of nachos, and we still left two or three chips on the plate at the end.

That’s a lot of chips, no matter what the actual number was.

But what interested me most were ingredients I had not noticed on my last visit — diced tomatoes and fresh green peppers (possibly jalapenos, although they didn’t pack any heat) had joined the mix. And I found some small bits of fresh onion as well. Banana peppers? Yep.

In addition, while someone in our party nixed the idea, normally the Ultimate Nachos also come topped with chili. Yeah, this concoction is only $8.50.

“We sell a lot of Ultimate Nachos,” said Back Door bartender Marianne Schroeder. “It takes more than two people to eat them.”

Schroeder said the nachos are so good that “they could bring a tear to a glass eye.”

As we dug further into the pile, Sara seemed as perplexed as I by the sheer mass of the … well, stuff. “It’s like they keep multiplying,” she said, pulling a handful of chips onto her plate and eagerly dipping them into the sour cream.

“Like bunnies,” I replied, and reached for more guacamole.

Oh yes, the guacamole. I have long been a fan of The Back Door’s guacamole, and I would opine that if you get the nachos, you should ask for an extra cup of the deliciously smooth guac. I tend to like my guacamole a bit spicier, but this stuff is bursting with fresh avocado flavor, which is fine by me.

About halfway through, Sara took it upon herself to dump the salsa onto the pile to sort of shake things up. It did just that, as the mild and slightly sweet salsa started appearing in bites unexpectedly, adding a nice change of pace.

Finally, the pile began to dissipate, and people began eating more and more slowly. My friend Tracy and I had put a serious dent in the guacamole.

“All the chicken is gone,” Sara noted, and then promptly found yet another chunk hiding under a blue corn tortilla chip. About four or five chips remained at this point.

Sara had wadded up her napkin and was about to toss it onto the pile. “Is everybody done?” she said. Courtney took another chip. And then another. And then I decided to have one more and finish off what was left of the guacamole. And in doing so, I uncovered another small chunk of the tender grilled chicken. Score!

Finally, we all conceded that the feeding frenzy had run its course. Sara ceremoniously chucked her napkin onto the remaining couple of chips and small pool of nacho cheese, officially bringing the festivities to a close.

And then they ordered wings. Really?