Stevie Martin

London based writer. Freelancer for hire (Published in Grazia, Vice, Elle, and others)

The London Evening Standard: 5 Best Nachos

Our nacho enthusiast Stevie Martin hunts down the best ‘chos in town from Portobello to Battersea via Trafalgar Square

03 April 2012

Nachos are the salsa-laden kings of the Tex Mex world, so how come it’s so hard to find a quality ‘cho in London?

From the pub variety lacking in dip to those slathered in cheap microwaved cheese; when they’re good, they’re damn good; when they’re bad, they’re awful. Avoid the many tragic nachos on offer and never suffer a below-par salsa experience again with this handy guide to the top five ‘chos in the capital.

Santo

This cosy, if pricey, Notting Hill favourite boasts entertaining waiters, fantastic mojitos and, most importantly, top class nachos. The sharer is huge, but the half portion just right for a hungry lone nacho enthusiast, with chunky guacamole, soured cream and cheese layered throughout. Because Santo is a more Mex than Tex, there’s black bean dip and salsa verde on offer instead of your average Old El Paso, and no nacho remains un-relished with the only complaint being you may not be able to finish your main course.

Santo, 299 Portobello Rd, W10 5TD,            0208 968 4590      

Texas Embassy Cantina

There’s something to be said for attention to detail, and Texas Embassy has resolved the problem of sauce-less chips (otherwise known as bald chos) not just by mountains of relish, but by sheer artistry. Choose from a rough-and-ready classic nacho dish with heaps of guac and salsa, or the Cadillac Nachos, where each chip is individually covered with a layer of melted cheese and topped off with a single jalapeno. It’s this, alongside the fact that they’ve cracked the portion and sauce-to-chip ratio, that makes the Embassy’s nachos something to behold. Sublime.

Texas Embassy Cantina,1 Cockspur St, Trafalgar Square, SW1Y 5DL

Desperados

You know it’s good when there’s five different variations of nachos available and a cowboy boot stuck on the wall. Cheap and cheerful to the point of mental, the waiters at the crazily decorated Desperados may be vacant, but if they get your order correct you’ll be enjoying some seriously good nachos (provided you ordered nachos). From Classic to Chilli Chicken to the daring Chorizo and Olive, all nacho dishes are dotted with relish, delivered piping hot and covered in bucketloads of good quality cheddar. Above all, it’s impossible to be anything other than happy when surrounded by plastic cacti.

Desperados, 127 Upper Street, Islington N1 1QP

Café Azteca

Another classic, and insanely tacky, tex mex joint that happens to do world-class nachos, as well as a damn fine mojito to wash them down. Choose from regular or grande, add sliced chicken or beef for an extra quid, and enjoy the mysterious “mixed cheese” topping coupled with huge dollops of salsa, soured cream and the sort of guacamole that can only be described as an avocado-oriented spiritual experience. They’ve nailed the portion size too – the Grande being a perfect sharer for two or three but, if you want to go it alone, the regular is ideal.

Café Azteca, 50 Battersea Park Rd, Battersea SW11 4JP,             0207 978 2231      

Mestizo Restaurant and Tequila Bar

One of the few proudly Mexican eateries in London, it’s surprising the classy Mestizo do nachos considering the dish’s decidedly non-Mexican origins. Heavy on the refried beans and getting serious with the cheese, these nachos don’t come with soured cream, salsa or guac but sliced jalapenos, chorizo or beef. Make sure you share, as the authentic menu deserves as much attention as the ‘chos, and be sure to sample the outstanding array of different tequilas and tequila-based cocktails on offer. Pricey, but worth it.

Mestizo, 103 Hampstead Rd, Euston NW1 3EL,             0207 387 4064      

Stevie Martin is a freelance journalist and nacho obsessive. Visit her blog The Nacho Times or follow her on Twitter @5tevieM

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This entry was posted on April 7, 2012 by in Features.
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