The winner of the second annual Sacramento National Nachos Day Crawl
“Do you want to see a Marg Wahlberg?”
Hell yes. And that's when James (no last names for this one) placed a lime wedge in the cranny between his bicep and forearm, then flexed and groaned. “Ahhh.” Nothing happened—but I think the lime's juice was supposed to drizzle down his arm and into a margarita glass. Dry limes. No Marg Wahlberg for this funky bunch.
I'm referring to the 11 of us seated at R Street's newly opened Dos Coyotes patio this past Friday. Dos is a chain of Sacto's 'burbs, a place where margarita “pitchers” are actually liter tequila bottles, and the nachos come blanketed in an impermeable sheet of cheese, leaving no chip unsmotherered.
This was the crew's fourth plate of nachos that evening. Occasion? The second annual Sacramento National Nacho Day Crawl, the inspiration of local deejays Shaun Slaughter and Adam Jay. This year's crawl featured stops at (in order) Taqueria Maya's, Pancho's, Chitas, Dos, Vallejo's, Mayahuel's on K Street—and Joe's Crab Shack (the wild card visit).
There can only be a single winner. The losers are those so unwise as to consume seven plates of nachos in a night.
It actually started in the afternoon, 3 p.m., on Broadway at Maya's. A server delivered thoughtfully plated nachos—sour-cream zigzags, zesty grilled peppers, plus the requisite cheese and chips, beans, guacamole and such, for 9 bucks. This first offering had the crew philosophizing as to what makes a nacho. But that exploration was fleeting, and perhaps Adam's insight was sufficient: “When the cheese hits the chip.”
A quick rundown of the crawl's contenders and pretenders. Vallejo's takes the basement slot—skimpy cheese, cold chips and shredded lettuce (a no-no). Pancho's is nearly last place, what with its stale triangles and weak cheese-to-chip ratio.
At Chita's you can get a sixer of Tecate and a nacho plate with zesty and clutch shredded adobada beef for $22, and that rules. Mayahuel is too damn busy for a drunk-and-dirty dozen crawlers, so we scratch that otherwise reliable spot.
Maya's wins the NND Crawl for the second straight year.
The Crab Shack's nachos probably should've been the worst—dubious cubed Dungeness atop meh chips dressed with flavorless pico and canned yellow corn. But the intoxicating (in all ways) “Shark Attack” cocktail proffered bonus points: a blue Curaçao booze-and-sugar bomb served in a giant cauldron with a grenadine floater, inside a toy great-white's mouth. Pour the syrup over the drink, blood in the water. Hilarious.
Nacho lessons? The dish is sadly an afterthought in Sacramento. For instance: How is it that Tres Hermanas nachos suck so hard? (We left that spot off the crawl.)
Why not painstakingly plated tweezer nachos, each chip a balanced and perfect nibble? “It should be a fiesta in every bite,” Shaun issued as a challenge to local chefs. I couldn't agree more: all nachos matter. Hashtag that.
And no unmelted cheese. Ever.