In the beginning, nachos were a simple satisfaction: fried corn tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeno chiles.
They've come a long way since Ignacio Anaya invented them in 1943 to feed the wives of American servicemen in Piedras Negras, Mexico on a shopping trip.
Today, nachos have spanned the globe, incorporating elements of myriad cuisines. Chips and cheese are just the beginning.
Buffalo's nacho menu has praiseworthy versions that hew relatively close to the original, and ones that take their cues from Italy or Vietnam instead of Mexico. Here's some of my favorites.
Tricked-out nachos ($7.49), Lloyd Taco Factory locations and Lloyd trucks.
This my favorite standard-ish nachos in town, for all the ways it elevates the standard. Pork shoulder roasted long enough to bring out its sweetness, housemade cheese sauce that tastes better than the canned stuff, and bracing red chile sauce that heats without burning.
Ahi tuna nachos ($13), Riverstone Grill, 971 East River Road, Grand Island.
Riverstone chef-owner Chaz Bulera didn't invent tuna nachos, but his exuberant version is my favorite. That's sesame-crusted fish briefly seared, sliced and arranged over fried wonton wrappers, tarted up with with cucumber wasabi dressing, scallions and sweet chili sauce.
Chilaquiles nachos ($12), Casa Azul, 128 Genesee St.
Chilaquiles are tortillas or tortilla chips tossed with salsa. Casa Azul goes a step further into nacho territory by topping them with cotija cheese, crema, marinated onion, scallion, candied pumpkin seeds, carne asada steak, and a fried egg.
Nacho Libre platter with carne asada ($16), Deep South Taco locations.
I've enjoyed seeing this tray anchor every Deep South Taco meal I've shared with a crowd. The housemade cheese sauce, backed up with salty cotija crumbs, gives it a noticeable boost. It can come in chicken or pork, but the marinated and grilled beefsteak called carne asada is my choice.
Banh mi nachos ($13, featured photo), Griffon Gastropub, 634 Main St., East Aurora.
Cross-cultural culinary experiments blow up on the launchpad more often than they soar, but this brainstorm made it into orbit. Fried wonton skins are topped with caramelized Vietnamese-inflected shredded pork, pickled carrots and bell peppers, and toasted sesame-sriracha aioli.
Italian nachos ($10), Giacobbi's Cucina Citta, 59 Allen St.
It turns out that pasta can be fried into a chip every bit as crisp as the original corn version. At Giacobbi's, that fact makes this combination of spicy marinara sauce, sausage, Hungarian peppers, olives and mozzarella a joy to behold, not to mention a worthy happy hour destination.
Chili nachos ($8.99), Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 301 Franklin St.
My admiration for this plate starts with the chili, which tastes like it was made with actual chiles, not just "chili powder." There's enough of it to make this plate a dinner candidate, jazzed up with pickled onion and a welcome lick of smoky heat from chipotle crema.
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