There’s a lot to love about nachos – the abundance of cheese, the mixture of savory and spicy, and the (optional) cornucopia of toppings all jumbled together in one epic bite.
Nachos originated in the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras during the 1940s, the brainchild of a local restaurant manager named Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya.
While the first incarnation of the humble nacho plate was a simple combo of fried, triangle shaped tortillas topped with cheese (literally all Igancio had in the pantry on the night when he invented it), the arrangement and ornateness of the dish has grown as it spread into Texas, throughout the southwest, and now in restaurants across the world.
This list is all about how Los Angeles does nachos, from traditional styles to more modern takes, and yes, even a vegan option.
Regardless of how you like to nacho, we think there will be something for everyone on the below roundup.
Rundown starts after the jump, numbered for reference in no particular order.
1. Gus’s BBQ (Pasadena)
I’m breaking away from the Mexican trend on the list with this BBQ joint that’s been around since 1946. The generous portion of house made tortilla chips with all the toppings you normally see on nachos with the added bonus of their barbecue sauce (obviously) and their Carolina style pulled-pork. If you want to get a taste of their other items we highly suggest you share but otherwise this is a meal unto itself that covers all the food groups so it’s kinda healthy… right? Right?!?!
2. Carnitas Michoacan (Lincoln Heights)
This 24-hour eatery located right off the 5 freeway serves their “super nachos” using a “simple is best” approach topping tortilla chips with creamy nacho cheese, meat and jalapeños. This place is extremely generous with the cheese some could say they are super generous, so prepare to get your hands cheesy. Pro tip: We suggest getting the cheese on the side to avoid soggy chips if you’re ordering to-go.
3. Komodo (Pico-Robertson & Venice Beach)
Have you ever eaten a go-to dish but with a twist and found yourself thinking “where have you been all my life?” Enter kimchi nachos. It’s got cheese, bacon, more cheese, sriracha aioli, chicken, and hot kimchi. Just one of those L.A. dishes you gotta try at least once.
4. Tinga (Hancock Park)
One of the more colorful and artisanal nacho options on this list is from a restaurant famous for their Cochinita Pibil Nachos. The name refers to a Yucatán dish where the pork is slow-roasted with citrus juice and achiote ( a spice also known as annatto with a somewhat peppery flavor and an orange color). The nachos are topped with habanero salsa, pickled onions, shredded Monterey Jack, queso fresco and guacamole altogether creating a beautifully bright dish that’s just as good to look at as it is to eat.
5. Casita Taco Al Carbon (North Hollywood)
It’s a simple and hearty plate of nachos topped with charcoal-grilled chicken. There are plenty of tacos al carbon eateries throughout the Valley but this place is consistently good and when I say nachos drenched in cheese I’m not exaggerating. Big appetite is not optional.
6. Mexicali Taco & Co (Chinatown)
One of the greatest disappointments when eating nachos is when you end up with more chips than toppings but you can rest easy that isn’t the case here. This cash-only restaurant has a well stocked salsa bar perfect for DIY nacho topping. All the salsas are solid and if you’re looking for something with a kick the raja salsa (made with poblano chiles) pair well with the flavors of the meat and nacho cheese.
7. Sky’s Gourmet Taco (Mid-City)
L.A.’s fusion cuisine has brought us Korean tacos, kosher Mexican food and for more than 20 years Sky’s been all about Mexican food with “soul”. What does this mean for your nachos? Seafood toppings, that’s what. There’s crawfish, salmon, tilapia, shrimp, and – if you really want to go all out- lobster and it’s even better when the chips are made in house.
8. El Tepeyac (Boyle Heights)
We previously featured El Tepeyac in our list of trusty go-to spots in L.A. focusing on their five-pound burrito but the nachos are also worthy of your attention. Choose between cheddar or jack cheese (or do yourself a favor and use both) and get the pork chile verde. It’s a classic eatery with mouthwatering Mexican dishes and thankfully their nachos are no exception.
9. TLT Food (Westwood)
They started out as The Lime Truck and went on to win Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race before opening a brick and mortar restaurant serving up inventive dishes that prove why they’re the winners. The pork belly in their nachos is the real star perfectly balancing the sweet and salty flavors combined with fresh pico de gallo.
10. El Cholo (Various Locations)
No list would be complete without the OG nacho dish, at least according to the restaurant. Carmen Rocha introduced nachos to Angelenos in 1959 with the recipe she brought from her hometown of San Antonio. If you want a ratio of 3:1 of cheese to chips then this is your joint. You can also request “Sonora style” to add beans and guacamole to their standard with cheese and jalapeños.
11. Plancha Tacos (Beverly Hills & Venice Beach)
Named the Jimmy Nachos this spot tops their nachos with ground beef, nacho cheese, sour cream, jalapeños and house made salsa. It’s also one of the more affordable options on the list at $6.95 with an option to go “supreme” with guacamole and beans for an extra .75 cents.
12. SunCafe (Studio City)
The wild card on the list are the vegan nachos made with jicama (Mexican turnip) and/or blue corn chips. It’s topped with cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, SunChorizo, jalapeño and the usual veggies. Even if you’re not vegan you might surprise yourself and actually enjoy this.
13. King Torta (El Sereno)
Some nachos are generously smothered in cheese but King Torta’s “super nachos” look like cheese swimming in sour cream and guacamole. For those who especially love loaded nachos this will easily become a favorite.
14. Petty Cash Taqueria (Fairfax District)
There are pork-topped nachos then there’s nachos made of pork as in pig ears, yup, you read that correctly but stay with me. They’re topped with crema poblana, Fresno chilies, and –drum roll- a runny egg. If that’s really not your thing but you still want to try something out of the ordinary there’s the roasted cauliflower nachos with rainbow cauliflower, kale, and pickled Fresno chilies. Either way, pair it with their guacamole and an agua fresca with booze.
15. Taqueria Los Anaya (West Adams)
Choose from a variety of meat options to top your nachos from carne asada, chicken, shrimp, al pastor and sometimes even chicken mole. It’s all loaded with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and cotija cheese. They are generous with portions so come hungry or opt to share the nachos as an appetizer to make room for their carne asada burrito and a Mexican coke.
Where are your favorite places to get nachos in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!