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irish nachos

Leave it to the Irish to replace tortilla chips with spuds. Half Moon Bar & Grill's Irish Nachos has waffle-cut fries,bacon bits, onions and a sea of cheese.

Over the course of an average day, I will forget the majority of my PINs as well as the majority of my passwords.

Yet, somehow, I never seem to forget the name of the man who created the recipe for nachos.

All right, it helps that the dude named the dish after himself.

AH HAIL, CHEF 'NACHO!'

Legend has it that Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, a maitre d' at a Piedras Negras, Mexico restaurant created the classic dish at the spur-of-the-moment back in 1943.

You see, a group of ladies -- wives of U.S. Army officers stationed at nearby Fort Duncan, Texas -- stopped by right before closing time.

Ever though the cook had already left for the night, Anaya raced to the kitchen, combining the first three ingredients that he found -- cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and jalapenos. 

The women were so impressed with the improvised appetizer that its inventor added "Nacho Especiales" to the eatery's menu.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, nachos have been an ubiquitous finger food for the past 76 years. What can be more comforting than goopy cheese that can be scooped up by a shovel-ready tortilla chip? 

However, this app with attitude is no longer strictly the domain of Mexican -- or Tex-Mex meals. Nope, Weekender taste testers have been sampling some Siouxland nachos that boast flavors of the Emerald Isle as well as the tastes of a country that's shaped like a boot.

But before we get into that, here's some crunchy facts designed to increase your nacho knowledge.

THE AMERICANIZATION OF THE NACHO

While the recipe for nachos originated south of the border, its main ingredient -- the tortilla chip -- is a case of American ingenuity. U.S.-based tortilla factories came up with a handy-dandy solution to rid themselves of broken and unsellable tortilla shells. Simply deep-fry those bad boys, bag 'em and sell 'em for a dime.

In addition, nacho cheese -- a gooey mash-up of melted cheddar, butter and flour -- was also created stateside.

Over time, canny cooks have created an incredible array of nacho recipes. Indeed, a recent Food Network search has turned up instructions for Cajun nachos, New York deli nachos (smoked salmon, cream cheese and bagel chips) and, even, Indian "naan"-chos.

While we'd love to get our hands on a plate of curry-fied nachos, we're contending ourselves with two types of different, international nachos.

IRISH NACHOS

WHO HAS 'EM: Half Moon Bar & Grill, 714 So. Lewis Blvd. Sioux City

WHAT'S IN 'EM: What makes Half Moon's Irish Nachos, you know, Irish, is replacing tortilla chips with waffle-cut fries. Yup, the Irish do know a thing or two about taters. Plus Half Moon doesn't skimp when adding tons of bacon bits, onions, sour cream and a sea of melted cheddar!

NOT IRISH ENOUGH? TRY THIS INSTEAD: Half Moon also has something it calls Dublin Nachos, which ditches the bacon, sour cream and onion for corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. Yup, a Reuben masquerading as nachos! 

NOT SO NACHO OR MUCHO NACHO: Our taste tester couldn't get enough of Half Moon's Irish Nachos. According to them, these would make for then ultimate morning after "hangover" meal. We'll have to take their word on that, of course. Since, Weekender know nothing about hangovers.

WEEKENDER GRADE: A-

italian nachos

P's Pizza House doesn't skimp on fixin's when it comes to its Italian Nacho. This colosseum-sized app contains wonton chips, Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, black olives, tomatoes, pepperoncini, and pepperoni.  

ITALIAN NACHOS

WHO HAS 'EM: P's Pizza House, 300 Golf Circle, Dakota Dunes

WHAT'S IN 'EM: Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, black olive, tomatoes, sport peppers, pepperoni and, surprising, homemade non-Italian wonton chips. We'll forgive P's on that count because, hey, this is one "supersized" appetizer! And yes, bigger is better, in the world of finger food!

HELPFUL SUGGESTION: We can't vouch for the Italian Nachos that come to P's tables, but our takeout order required a bit of work. Most of the Alfredo sauce was on the bottom, not the top. Small oversight, since the sauce was 1) very scoopable and 2) very delicious!

NOT SO NACHO OR MUCHO NACHO: From the fresh mozz to the pepperoni slivers, this was a meaty masterpiece that even Da Vinci would would bow down to. 

WEEKENDER GRADE: B+ 

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