From happy hour appetizers to shared meals, nachos are a pretty versatile dish. It is also something that can be made with a wide variety of recipes. From the standard recipes to wontons with raw ahi to Irish nachos topped with bacon, here are some of the best places in the county to get your nacho fix.
1632 E Katella Ave
Orange, CA 92867
The nachos at Freebirds are as legitimate as it gets. In fact, you can load your nachos with just about anything you want. There's certainly nothing average about their made-to-order nachos. Topped off with a mountain of tortilla chips and anything you can think of to add, it's one of their favorite and most-ordered dishes. With their famously creamy cheese and hearty guacamole, it's delicious.
2937 S Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Costa Mesa's Taco Asylum offers not one, but two types of nachos to choose from on their starters section of the menu. You could just order their tasty chili lime tortilla-chips, but what's the fun in that when you can order their "Nachos Borrachos," which comes with your choice of either tortilla or potato chips as the base of the nacho dish. Add in red ale chili queso, cilantro, salsa verde, pico de gallo, pickled red onions, and guacamole, and you'll walk out of the restaurant as a very happy camper. You can also add chicken or carne asada for an additional cost. Want another option? Taco Asylum offers their "Nachos Gringos" as well. Served exclusively on potato chips, these aren't your typical nachos. With blue cheese, horseradish aioli, beer cheese, gray, pickled red onions and guacamole, it's a different take on the typical nacho dish, but one definitely worth trying! Like the Borrachos nachos, you can add meat (BBQ chicken or steak) for an additional cost.
Multiple Locations / Food Truck
If you are looking for selection in nachos, Taco Loco is the place to go. In fact, just one glance at their part of the menu that has the nachos and you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of options. It has the standard beef, chicken (and blackened chicken), carnitas, blackened swordfish, but it also carries mushroom, tofu, blackened fish (pictured) and blackened calamari. You don't have to worry about getting way more than you need here. Half orders of nachos are available in case you want enough just for you. The prices here are very affordable too.
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
It is not surprising that you can find good nachos near a college campus. That being said, Albertaco's is a real easy place to miss unless you know the area around Saddleback College. Albertaco's only has one kind of nachos (carne asada), but they are good. It comes with sour cream and guacamole and a good amount of meat. You won't feel like you've been cheated or have to dig to find the carne asada -- this spot gives you enough meat that you won't have any complaints. Albertaco's serves up a pretty good portion, so you probably want to share these with someone.
Patsy's Irish Pub
28971 Golden Lantern, Suite 108
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
If you're looking for something other than tortilla chips for your nachos, Patsy's is the place to go. The "Irish Nachos" here consist of house-made potato chips topped with bacon, green onions, cheese and tomatoes, and served with sour cream. Let's face it, if anything can make nachos even better than normal, it's bacon. It is as good as it sounds and the generous portion makes it something you can (and probably should) share.
El Toro Bravo
745 W 19th St., Suite G
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
The thing that really makes nachos is the chips. Subpar chips can be dressed up with a lot of different ingredients, but nachos are so much easier to enjoy if the chips are really good. And if you want good chips, you have to start with good tortillas. Well, you're not likely to find better tortillas than at a tortilleria like El Toro Bravo. The delicious chips here are topped with cheese and carne asada so you'll enjoy every bite of the nachos.
1768 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
The menu at El Matador offers a few different types of nachos to choose from. So, for all of you nacho lovers, you're in luck! Once you've decided what to order as your main dish, start off with one of their nacho appetizers. The guacamole and cheese nachos, their chile verde & cheese nachos or their regular cheese nachos are all favorites on the menu. You can't go wrong with whatever one you choose!
Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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