Ava Nyman and I shared our first nachos at Cityside Tavern in Brighton. This was a modern platter: unique, refreshing flavors, punchy pickled onions, cotija cheese, and a cool sour cream sauce. They were served fresh on a metal tray, giving them a modern look that speaks to the restaurant’s claim of creating “comfort food with a modern twist.”
“I love how the nachos can be an appetizer or a meal,” Ava said, “and the waiters and waitresses are very friendly which adds to the warm environment.”
For $16 you have a solid nacho platter to enjoy in a lively, high-energy setting. This was our first of many encounters with Cityside nachos.
I’ve known Ava since freshman year. Throughout these two years together, we have eaten many nachos at many restaurants. This has come from planned dinner dates and spontaneous late-night adventures. The nachos I grew up eating at home were simple: tortilla chips with melted shredded cheese on top. Nachos were always one of my comfort foods and I appreciated that they could easily be thrown together at home.
Nachos are a relatively new snack, meal, or whatever you want to call them. It was created in 1943 by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Stories claim that military wives came from the neighboring town, Eagle Pass, looking for a meal at his restaurant. Needing to whip something up quickly, he put shredded cheese on a tortilla chip with a jalapeño slice. There is a charm that comes from the spontaneity and simplicity of the nacho’s making; it has modest beginnings! Boston is home to many Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, so it is not difficult to find nachos here.
Although most adaptations stray away from Anaya’s simple dish, nachos are a common appetizer at many restaurants. With a plethora of topping options, you will never find the same nacho at two different restaurants. Similarly, every restaurant has a unique vibe, which is an essential component of a dining experience.
In addition to Cityside Tavern, Ava and I found ourselves getting nachos at the Bebop, a restaurant and bar in Boston. This Irish pub sticks with relatively classic toppings, and a heavy layer of melted cheddar, beans, shredded chicken, plentiful salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. I suggest going here on a Thursday night when there is live music, usually performed by Berklee School musicians. In my encounters at Bebop, BC students gathered around the miniature stage and sang “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” There is a youthful energy and a warm environment that will have you dancing by the end of the night.
Sunset Cantina in Boston is similar to Bebop in its approach to nachos, with plentiful toppings of cheese, beans, and jalapeños. These nachos are heavier due to a thick layer of melted cheese, contrasting with the lightness of Cityside’s nachos. The environment is slightly dark, lacking the more upbeat energies of the Bebop and Cityside Tavern. I would recommend the other two restaurants over Sunset Cantina.
Our most recent try was 730 Tavern in Cambridge. Ava and I tried these nachos after a long night so they were much needed, and they pack the punch! With flavorful chicken and plentiful jalapeños, you will not find a dull chip in this bunch. The light crema adds a refreshing tang that tops everything off this $20 platter. Additionally, the servers are attentive and the restaurant and bar are always quite busy. The dark wooden interior parallels the comforting nacho platter.
Overall, I would deem Cityside Tavern’s nachos to be the best due to their eccentric flavors. The restaurant’s energy is unmatched and its proximity to BC is a huge plus. Ava puts Cityside at the top, too, stating that the Bebop is a close second on her list. My hunt for the best nacho remains where it started: at Cityside Tavern. But there are endless spots to try in Boston, so my hunt will continue!
Cover Photo Courtesy of Cityside Bar