Let’s Have a Memphis Nacho Party
Ed. Note: Stacey and I have been talking about doing a nacho roundup article for way too long and we finally made it happen. Also, congrats to Stacey, who is the new Editor for the revived foodie publication Edible Memphis. She’ll continue to bring us Memphis foodie news on the ILM blog, too. Give Edible Memphis a follow on Instagram.
When people think of Memphis, they automatically think of barbeque. Well, I’m here to change that. Below are several fine examples of why we need to start promoting ourselves as a nacho town!
Let’s ease into this with a little barbeque talk. I think we can all agree that the Rendezvous BBQ Nachos at the Redbird’s games is what put us on the nacho map. Tortilla chips, Rendezvous bbq, cheese sauce, bbq sauce and jalapeños, if you like. Nothing goes better with a cold beer and a baseball game.
Speaking of the Rendezvous nachos at Autozone Park, they’re also available in the restaurant, naturally, but did you know they also have a pretty fine vegetarian nacho too? Brainchild of the Chubby Vegetarian, the rice and beans nachos include Brim’s chips, red beans and rice, cheese dip, barbeque sauce, and jalapeños. You won’t miss the meat. Really.
C-BBQ takes BBQ nachos to the next level. They’ve got marinated slow-smoked pulled pork on a bed of tortilla chips topped with BBQ sauce, cheese sauce, shredded cheese (that’s right, TWO cheeses), jalapeños, and a light dusting of BBQ shake.
Adventurous diners can substitute barbeque potato chips for the tortillas, and those who don’t like pork can order them with sliced beef brisket, pulled chicken or sliced turkey breast. Go on vegetarians and vegans, ask for them with the grilled portabella. It’s cool. And for those watching your waistlines or pocketbooks, half orders are also available.
The barbeque tofu (yes, tofu) nachos at RP Tracks are legendary. In Memphis we even barbeque (and fry) our tofu. Dang it’s good! Tossed atop freshly made tortilla chips, black bean chili, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and jalapeños, it satisfies vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Vegans may also order it dairy-free.
Ed. Note: These have been my favorite for a good long while.
The newcomer to the BBQ nacho party is Top’s, and they only have them at a few locations. There are two variations. The “loaded” comes with chips, beans, meat, sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeños and sour cream.
They also serve “regular” with just chips, cheese meat and sauce. I think the most exciting thing about these nachos is seeing what customers will do when given free reign. (Think cheeseburgers topped with barbeque meat.) I have already caught wind of a gal adding slaw. It is Memphis after all.
Next up, the king of all nachos. The Badass Nachos started as a secret menu item that was only available when the chefs at Sweet Grass Next Door felt like braising briskets or when there were major sporting events. Not surprisingly, it quickly became a neighborhood favorite.
Sweet Grass now braises over 100 pounds of brisket per week. They cut and fry some corn tortillas from Tortilleria La Unica on Summer and cover them in red chili sauce (basically, an enchilada sauce), queso, sautéed onions and peppers, braised beef brisket, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, cilantro. Best off all? You can order them on a plate large enough to take a nap on!
The Island Nachos at Atomic Tiki are the perfect snack. Southern barbeque meets South Pacific island flare in this unique dish. Warm tortilla chips are topped with spicy queso, pineapple pico de gallo, and your choice of barbeque brisket, pork or tofu. As owner Skinny McCabe says, “They make your taste buds do the hula!”
Another newcomer to the nacho scene, Carolina Watershed makes theirs with pork rinds, pulled pork, jalapeños, scallion cream, a provolone, mozzarella and parmesan cheese blend, and serves them with an egg on top – which basically means you can have them for breakfast.
Bleu, inside the Westin Hotel, actually does serve breakfast nachos, at least on the weekends. Nachos Rancheros features eggs sunny side up, baked kidney beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, Monterey jack cheese sauce with jalapenos and homemade tortilla chips. Good morning!
Keeping with the brunch theme, the chicken and waffle nachos at H&M are a must try. Their cheesy garlic biscuit waffle is topped crispy fried chicken, bacon, nacho cheese, jalapenos, black olives, sour cream, and scallions. The waffle is cut in four so you can kind of eat it like you would a pizza. It’s a little mind-blowing.
Slider Inn nachos are the gold standard in town, and really do taste better on the patio. They come in several varieties—chili, chicken or plain. Super thin and crispy chips are piled high with chicken or chili or both, black beans, shredded cheese, pico, sour cream and jalapeños. They are baked in the oven so the cheese gets a lil crispy, which is kind of the best thing ever.
Now, listen up. Take these nachos to the next level in any one of these ways and thank me later: 1. Add guacamole. 2. Substitute buffalo chicken for regular chicken. 3. Substitute steak 4. Substitute falafel, and 5. Substitute the same al pastor meat they use for Taco Tuesday (dressed with cilantro, onion, pineapple, and salsa). I’m not done wowing you—half orders are also available.
Let’s move into some really fun territory. Asian nachos. Chef Ben Smith was inspired by longtime customer and friend, Margot McNeely, who came back from Puerto Rico raving about some seafood nachos she had.
He decided to do his own version with fried wontons, seared tuna, crema, Sriracha, scallions and jalapeños. They are the perfect bite and definitely the lightest and most refreshing nachos there ever were.
Sushi Jimmi also has his very own version of Asian nachos. Spicy crawfish is piled high on a bed of Nacho Cheese Doritos (genius), then finished off with pico de gallo, spicy mayo, and Sriracha. Nachos are also available with chicken or beef.
The Wok’n in Memphis Mongolian Beef Nachos get their Asian flare from beef. Fried wonton chips are topped with shredded braised Mongolian beef, bell peppers and onions, and finished with Sambal mayo, fried garlic, sesame seeds, scallion and cilantro. Look for them at ongoing Sunday brunch Pop Ups at the Silly Goose (11am-3pm).
Don’t leave Maciel’s out of the nacho party. Theirs come with crispy chips, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, carrots, cilantro, jalapeno, sour cream, chipotle, cheese and your choice of spicy shrimp, pollo tinga, asada, pastor, or chorizo. (Spicy shrimp! Spicy shrimp!)
Ciao Bella makes an Italian version of nachos that is pretty spectacular. They include sun-dried tomatoes, Bolognese sauce, Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, black olives, banana peppers, red onion, and tomatoes over homemade tortilla chips.
The Greek nachos at Grecian Gourmet are in the current weekly rotation, and it seems they get better every time I try them. Pita chips are loaded with meat sauce, feta dip, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, red onion and banana peppers. Also available to add to the party: gyro meat and chicken.
Chef Tam has not one, but two (!) nacho options on her menu, and they are completely different. First up, the totchos. Seasoned fried tater tots are smothered with their Muddy Mac & Cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, pico and a drizzle of their signature sauce. (The Muddy Mac is already practically a meal in itself — It’s loaded with crawfish, crab and shrimp.)
Second, the peach cobbler nachos–Chef Tam’s play on a Southern culture classic. Cinnamon sugar chips are topped with peach cobbler filling and cinnamon sugar dusted vanilla ice cream. Using the chips to scoop up the peaches, sauce and ice cream is like getting that perfect corner bite on a regular cobbler every.single.time.
Last but not least, Babalu Tapas & Taco’s has stepped into the ring with a dessert nacho of their own. Chocolate Nachos consist of cinnamon sugar dusted chips, topped with Nutella and fresh fruit. What’s not to like?
What beloved nachos did we leave off this holy list? No need to throw your plate of melted cheese and chips at us, just let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out.
About The Author
Stacey Greenberg is a freelance writer who lives in Cooper Young with her two teenaged sons. She’s a contributor to Thrillist.com, Edible Memphis, I Love Memphis, and Memphis Travel. She’s also the author of the award winning blog, Dining with Monkeys (diningwithmonkeys.com). A lifelong Memphian, she loves the fact that she’s never met a stranger here.