Nachos Supremo at Spiral Diner. Photo by Catherine Downes.

Taste Test Thursdays

Taste Test: Dallas Restaurant Nachos

Which are the best?

I am a mean lady.

Today I made my colleagues eat nachos, and this makes me mean. Rotten, even.

I know what you’re probably thinking: Oh, for Heaven’s sake! Nachos? Are you kidding me? You’re practically an angel sent down from the refried bean Promised Land.

One would think. But no. At least not according to the people I work with. Now, I’m not going to name names. That would be petty. And pettiness is for the birds. What I will say is that I had a difficult time wrangling volunteers for this week’s taste test.

Only one person from the web team partook. Again, I’m not naming names. But I can tell you that their recent piece on David Berman’s passing was really good. I’m thankful for this colleague, even if we did get into a tiff over whether or not fajitas would make a good taste test. (I said no because they need the razzle-dazzle that comes from the skillet and steam and he said the steam is irrelevant because it’s made from drops of water and it doesn’t affect the dish. We argued for 45 seconds and then moved on with our lives.)

It wouldn’t be fair to say that everybody was upset about this week’s taste test, either. One volunteer from the art department dug in. And again, not naming names, but D Magazine’s dining critic was a good sport, too.

There was one person, however, who volunteered their stomach and then was immediately put out by the task at hand. The chips were soggy. And they just ate lunch. And they didn’t even want to do this, but they felt trapped when they came over to the web department to inquire about City Hall coverage. Again, I refuse to be petty. But I’ll give you a clue: their name rhymes with Grim Dodgers. How could I do such an awful, ungodly thing to them?

I’ll tell you how: because I am a mean lady.

The nachos:

A. Mia’s
B. Spiral Diner
C. Mesero
D. Mi Cocina
E. El Fenix

Tasting notes:

Mia’s

You can’t have nachos delivered because the chips get soggy, and the cheese congeals. That said, the chips on these nachos were soggy, and the cheese was congealed. I went with the chicken version.

Super meaty. I like the guac and the steak is full of flavor. With the soft refried beans, these are simple, but satisfying.

First one off the bat is perfect. The chip is hefty, it’s composed perfectly, and there’s an ideal amount of guac and sour cream. Great melted cheese. The pickled jalapeño brings it together, and the beef is awesome. This is a nacho.

Mmm… fajita meat. Not a fan of the chips, though. But the rest is real good.

Spiral Diner

You can’t have nachos delivered because the chips get soggy, and the cheese congeals. That said, this one was impressive for two reasons: 1) it was a total mess, and 2) the cheese refused to congeal. I licked some of the runny cheese and moved on to the next taste.

Well, hello, nutritional yeast cheese sauce—how do I love thee? As for the rest, the black olives are trash, the corn kernels are unsettling, the quinoa is hilarious, the guac is goopy and gets hot, and the whole thing looks like a trash heap. (Even sturdy chips can’t hold up.) But the cheese sauce? It’s all about that.

This one looks like messy bar nachos. Haphazard, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Very bean-heavy. Could use some more acidity.

I think my first chip on this was bad because it tasted like soap, but then I tried another one and that one was really good. I really like the chips on this one. Quinoa is an odd choice but I’m not hating it!

Mesero

You can’t have nachos delivered because the chips get soggy, and the cheese congeals. That said, when I bit into this one, the toppings slid off as one solid mass, and the pulled pork (I think it was pork), hung out of my mouth like the fringe of a meat carpet.

The most non-nachos of the bunch, they’ve got lots of extras that make them feel like a full plate: the fresh slaw, the lightly dressed avocado, the pickled sweet peppers, the lovely Mexican cheese. These are sorta-kinda nachos, but it’s more like a whole Mexican meal. It’s like someone standing on their knees so they can get onto a kiddie ride: “I swear, I’m not that tall. Really.” Sure. We see you.

Another one with a little more careful composition, with what looks to be melted Monterey jack, black beans, and brisket. It’s fancy. The flavor’s there, but the chips don’t have enough give. I thought this was on a tortilla. That being said, we had them delivered to the office so maybe I can’t be too critical.

Mush.

Mi Cocina

You can’t have nachos delivered because the chips get soggy, and the cheese congeals. That said, the flank steak (I think it was flank steak) was good, and I bet this was a good nacho about an hour ago.

The meat is tough, but fine. These are just so-so. A lake of melted cheese.

Another masterful nacho composition. It’s covered in melted cheddar with a thumb-sized piece of steak and a dollop of guac. There is a layer of pinto beans beneath the cheese. It is awesome. I respect a nacho this big; the chip is about the size of my palm. You order an appetizer of these and you each get one and you’re happy.

Lots of cheese so I don’t hate this one, but the steak is way too thick and chewy.

El Fenix

You can’t have nachos delivered because the chips get soggy, and the cheese congeals. That said, I ate this brisket (I think it was brisket) reluctantly and hated myself afterward. When I volunteered for this taste test, I had already eaten lunch. But when I wandered over to the web team area to ask a question about City Hall coverage, I was asked to participate. I should have politely declined. Or even rudely declined. Because, again, I hate myself. No one wins in this taste test, especially me.

I like the whole pinto beans.

This one’s lazy. The cilantro is a nice touch and there’s a heat to it that’s absent in the others, but … it’s just fine.

Super messy which is why nachos are definitely meant for sharing. This one didn’t travel well.

Tally up:

Mia’s 2
Spiral Diner 1
Mesero
Mi Cocina
El Fenix

(One person did not choose a winner because “It wouldn’t be fair to the nachos.”)

The winner is:

Mia’s wins this week’s taste test with two out of three votes.

So, what are your favorite nachos in Dallas? Have you ever had nachos delivered? Maybe you shouldn’t have nachos delivered. Yeah. Prob not. Don’t have nachos delivered.

Do go to Mia’s and order nachos, though.

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