It's been a long time, too long, but last night, I remembered how much I love nachos in all their unauthentic glory.
Every other week, I meet a friend for dinner, for me to practice Korean and for her to practice English. We've been meeting for over a year now, and it's taken us a surprisingly long time to figure out exactly what kind of venue we need. We usually meet for two hours, so we can't go anywhere we'll be rushed out, but we also want to keep things cheap, and cheap food in NY almost necessarily goes hand in hand with quick turnover of tables.
A few weeks ago, though, I had a craving for a good hamburger and we discovered that the perfect venue for us is a laid-back bar on a Monday night. We sat at Old Town Bar for two hours with interruptions from the easygoing waitresses only for refills of water, and had excellent burgers. Last night, I chose South's Bar, just a few blocks from my office, where I knew I would find a similarly easygoing atmosphere with solid, good food. (Their website looks new, and it makes the bar look spiffier and less lovable than it actually is.)
But to my heart's surprise, I also found a renewed love of nachos. Mmmm! Sadly, I have no photos, only memories of the mountain of chips and toppings that came to our table. And for $7!
I stopped eating nachos around the same time I realized TGI Friday's was not good food. When there were heirloom tomatoes and levain breads and untold artisanal cheeses to discover in my post-high school New York-New Haven-San Francisco circuit, I forgot about the pleasures of canned jalapenos and sour cream. South's version is particularly rich. It's not just a layer of chips with stuff on top. The kitchen actually weaves layers of chips between the black beans, the jarred salsa, and the cheese that you know is real because it gets hard. The mountain is topped with a big dollop of sour cream and an equally big dollop of guacamole, accompanied with a generous sprinkling of big, juicy, sliced jalapeno peppers, that provide the kind of familiar, vinegary spiciness that can only come from canned ingredients. It is very very good.
And there's something, I don't know, weirdly heartwarming to me about an Irish pub in New York serving Mexican nachos. Sure, nachos aren't really Mexican, but South's isn't really Irish, and who can turn up their nose at a lovely mess of chips and dips?
(Apparently, nachos were invented by Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya. Yeah, uh huh.)