Top 10 Nachos in Halifax (The Final Quest!)
The first Nacho Quest took place in 2014, when I first recruited a team of random internet strangers to come along on one of my crazy food quests! The plan was to bar hop to every restaurant on Spring Garden Road that served nachos, and score each plate on a list of criteria.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve organized 9 Nacho Quests, accounting for the entirety of the Halifax Peninsula. Street-by-street, neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood, block-by-block; where there were nachos, we were there to conquer! I decided that 2018 would be the year that I would wrap things up and decide once and for all: Where are the best nachos in Halifax?
I enlisted an entirely new Nacho Team, composed of friends and strangers who had never been on a Nacho Quest, and sent them with their fresh, untainted palates, on a 2 day quest to rate the top 10 ranking nachos.
“The B Team”, as they call themselves, consisted of 8 worthy heroes: Jeff, Jacqui, Abe, Matt, JC, Sharon, MJ and James.
Here are the best nachos in Halifax, ranked by The B Team:
10. Mexicali Rosa’s
5472 Spring Garden Road
“Bright and tasty flavours and toppings” – James
These nachos are made the “traditional way” in a single layer with no chip neglected! The house-made chips have a decent coverage of Jack cheese and diced veggies, and are drizzled with a mild “red sauce”. Includes: choice of ONE dip (sour cream, salsa, guac)
Extras: additional salsa, sour cream, guac
The toppings are bright, tasty and well distributed, but there is a serious lack of heat. The team characterized the “Rosa sauce” as more Italian than Mexican, belonging on pizza or pasta. Pro-Tip: request the house-made jalapeno relish. It’s not mentioned on the menu.
At $15 these are a bit steep for the quality/size, and it’s problematic that only one dip is included.
These blew away the competition on past nacho quests, but they didn’t wow the B Team.
“Too Gingro for Jeff” – Jeff
Strengths: Topping Distribution & Cheese Coverage
Weaknesses: Flavour Impression, Value
9. The Nook on Gottingen
2118 Gottingen Street
We Ordered: Regular Nachos ($12)
Originally Reviewed: North End Nacho Quest
“The spice is what makes these stand out but I would like a hot element and more cheese in the middle layers” – MJ
Triple-decker nachos with layers of cheese, black beans, corn, onion and shredded cabbage. There’s a tantalizing “secret spice” on the chips and a sriracha oil drizzle.
Includes: sour cream & salsa
These nachos had too much cheese on them when we first reviewed them. Yes, that’s a thing. (Read: soggy chips). The Nook has since scaled back the cheese, but that cheese-to-chip ratio can be so hard to nail…
The B Team felt these nachos weren’t cheesy/melty enough! I hate to say it, but I think the team would have been more forgiving of the too-much-cheese version than the not-enough-cheese version. One of their issues was that the nachos were unevenly cooked, and I think the recent addition of cabbage exaggerates the visual effect of par-cooked cheese strands.
While the cheese factor did not wow the crowd, the overall flavours and ingredients were pretty solid and it’s a decent portion for $12.
Strengths: Flavour, Value
Weaknesses: Cheese Coverage/Meltage
8. Seasons by Atlantica
1980 Robie Street
We ordered: Nachos (Lounge Menu Only) ($16)
Originally Reviewed: Quinpool Nacho Quest
“I’d go back for homemade nacho taste without the elbow grease” – Sharon
“Happy for solid basic nachos” – JC
Two distinct cheesy layers with beef, peppers, tomatoes, onions, kalamata olives, & jalapenos.
Includes: sour cream & salsa
Extras: Guacamole ($3)
These nachos had excellent topping distribution and a solid, if not perfect, attempt at layering. Most of the flavour came from the seasoned beef and briny olives. Otherwise these are pretty average, but solidly average.
“$16 with beef and a good portion – worth it” – Abe
Strengths: Value, Layering
Weaknesses: Average Flavour, Generic Salsa & Sour Cream
7. Stayner’s Wharf
5075 George Street
We ordered: Vachos ($13.50)
Originally Reviewed: Waterfront Nacho Quest
“Good chips that were seasoned, the whole plate was covered with lots of cheese and toppings all over – very good flavour with the spinach” – Abe
A single layer of chips, carefully dressed with diced red & green pepper, tomatoes, green & red onion, chopped spinach and jalapeños and covered in mozzarella.
Includes: sour cream & salsa verde.
Extras: Guacamole ($3). Stingin’ Hot Honey ($0.50).
These nachos had a perfect cheese coverage, though some would have liked to see more browning or a bolder blend of cheese.
One of my favourite things about these nachos is the tiny diced fresh jalapenos, but they weren’t well dispersed on this particular platter and not everyone detected them. Mozza is not the boldest of cheese flavours, and without the jalapeno distribution these nachos came across as sorta plain.
The house-made salsa verde is a nice departure from the usual Sysco salsas we’ve encountered, but I wish they’d bring back the donair dipping sauce option, as it worked really well with the mozza.
These nachos are decently priced, but the group felt they were a bit small.
Strengths: Cheese Coverage, Chips, Dips
Weaknesses: Topping Distribution, Flavour
6. Roxbury Urban Dive Bar
1743 Grafton Street
We Ordered: “Another Juan” (i.e. nachos – $5), with beef ($3)
Originally Reviewed: The Last Quest
“Great value. Beef was chunky and flavourful. Really liked the lunchbox presentation” – Matt
Personal-sized nachos served in a quirky metal lunch box, with pickled jalapenos, diced tomato and green onion ribbons.
Includes: salsa and sour cream
Extras: guacamole ($3)
These are the smallest, cheapest nachos you’ll find in Halifax. Sure, they’re a bit gimmicky, but they’re also quite good. They are cheesy and flavourful, with a bit of flourish.
“The green onion was beautiful, toppings fresh and well placed” – MJ
Most everyone would recommend you add the beef for a grand total of $8. They would probably be great even without the beef, if you were looking for a cheap snack. However, the guacamole is a very small portion of tube guac, and not worth the $3.
“The meat was seasoned! Thank you. The meat and jalapenos were the highlight of this meal” – Jacqui
Strengths: Presentation, Value, Flavour
Weaknesses: Dips, Cheese Coverage
5. The Old Triangle
5136 Prince Street
We Ordered: Paddy Fernandez Nachos ($14), with Chicken ($5)
Originally Reviewed: Waterfront Quest
“Cheese so phenomenal. Layering: A+” – Sharon
A nice portion of layered nachos with the expected pub toppings (jalapenos, tomatoes, onions). Corn chips are bagged but fried in-house for extra freshness and loaded with a blend of pre-shredded and house-shredded cheddar.
Includes: salsa & sour cream
Extras: guacamole ($3.50)
Team B thoroughly enjoyed these nachos, with their perfect cheesy layers. While the toppings are average pub toppings, the chicken is actual chicken, hand-pulled off the carcass. It’s actually house-roasted chicken and 1000 times better than the diced Sysco chicken breast you get at most places, even if the team felt it lacked seasoning.
The salsa is pre-fab with house-additions, fresh tasting with a pop of cucumber.
These are a generous portion for $14 – opinions are split regarding the $5 chicken addition.
Biggest Strengths: Cheese Factor, Topping Distribution, Chicken, Dips
Biggest Weaknesses: Aesthetic Impression, Chips, Quality of (Veggie) Toppings
4. The Black Sheep
1569 Dresden Row
We Ordered: Brisket Nachos ($14.50)
Originally Reviewed: The Last Quest
A perfect structure of chips and melted cheddar, with house-smoked brisket and sauerkraut. Drizzled with green onion crema and chipotle honey mustard.
Includes: house-made guacamole
“One of the strongest/most signature flavours of all – not your normal nachos!” – James
The layering was absolutely perfect; a flawless structure glued together with cheesy goodness. Judged on technical merit alone, these nachos are an almost perfect score. However, the team noticed that the brisket and sauerkraut were a bit sparse.
Perhaps the biggest challenge with these nachos is the non-traditional flavours. My last sample group struggled with the sweet mustard (as did I), but Team B seemed to really dig it:
“It was a strangely satisfying stand-in for salsa. I was weirded out by the description and pleasantly surprised by the taste” – Sharon
“It was unique and it worked: yummy and different, sweet and fresh” – MJ
The crowd was impressed with the intricate layering and the wonderful guacamole. Can’t argue with the price for such an elaborate work of art.
Biggest Strengths: Cheese Factor, Flavour, Guacamole, Quality of Toppings
Biggest Weakness: Topping Distribution
We’ve arrived at the top 3! The following restaurants have consistently demonstrated their ability to provide quality ingredients and traditional nachos flavours in a relaxing environment with fantastic service. With no further ado….
Here are the Top 3!
3. East of Grafton
1580 Argyle Street
We Ordered: Mediterranean Nachos ($17)
Originally Reviewed: The Last Quest
“I’d drink the habanero lime sour cream. Really. Dare me.” – Sharon
A medium-sized platter of tri-coloured chips, layered with decidedly non-Mediterranean flavours: pickled peperoncini, artichokes, tomatoes, green onions and a blend of mozza, cheddar and jack.
Includes: habanero lime sour cream and black bean dip
The layering is imperfect, almost elusive; some noticed the attempt while others did not. An adequate amount of cheese, but everyone would have liked more. The group loved the “inventive and thoughtful” toppings with their balance of sweet & heat, but would have liked more toppings as well.
We love these nachos! Give us more of everything! Please? k thanks.
“The lack of cheese was disappointing… but the pack of flavour in the other elements of this dish put it near the top, even without that important glue” – Jacqui
What really set these nachos above and beyond were the dips: the habanero lime sour cream and the black bean dip.
Put it all together and the overall flavour won everyone over. Perhaps $17 is a bit pricey, but we think it’s worth it.
Strengths: Aesthetic Impression, Quality of Toppings, Dips, Chips, Flavour
Weaknesses: Topping Distribution, Cheese Coverage & Layering
2. LevelBar (Prince George Hotel)
1725 Market Street
We Ordered: Nachos ($12)
Originally Reviewed: Brunswick Street Quest
“Classic nacho, I’d be happy if they were mine” – Jeff
A lovingly layered stack of cheddar cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes, peppers and scallions.
Includes: salsa, sour cream, and a wonderful house-made guacamole
We love it when guacamole is included in the price, especially when it’s house-made, and at $12 these nachos are an absolute steal!
These have been consistently good every time I’ve had them, and tonight was no exception. But don’t take my word for it! See what the team had to say:
“Happy to have basic nacho flavours delivered so well. These nachos are exactly what I want. Traditional nacho ingredients, layered with melted fucking cheese!” – JC
“Best combination of flavour/value” – Matt
“Cheese everywhere! Over, under, in between!” – Jacqui
“The best topping distribution and really god quality ingredients. Every chip was good all the way down. Salty but good medley of flavours. A fine prize. The perfect nacho!” – James
Strengths: Value, Topping Distribution, Dips, Quality of Toppings, Cheese Factor
Weaknesses: None. Okay, the salsa was just average.
1. El Chino Snack Bar
2398 Robie Street
We Ordered: Nachos ($15) with pulled pork ($5)
Originally Reviewed: Quinpool Quest
“The atmosphere at this place was great, and the staff were unbelievably friendly and easy going. I’d give this the best overall experience” – Jacqui
Fresh white corn tortilla chips (flown in from a special producer in Toronto) fried fresh, and topped with house-grated medium cheddar cheese. Topped with house-made pico de gallo, green & red pepper, jalapeno and green onion. Crowned with a beautifully spiced, slow-cooked pulled pork.
Includes: sour cream and house-made salsa (“jalapenos and onions charred over high heat with a hint of cumin to bring it all together”).
Everything was perfect. The check list was satisfied:
“Really crispy chips, lots of cheese, lots of toppings, awesome pico, best salsa so far, best meat topping by far, decent size” – Matt
“Even the very bottom layer had cheese. There were toppings on every layer and spread evenly” – Abe
Everybody loved the chips, the cheese, the salsa, the toppings, the pork…. and overall?
“Wow. I shed an inner tear. Took me to my happy place” – Jacqui
Strengths: Flavour, Quality of Toppings, Dips, Chips, Aesthetic Impression, Cheese Factor
Harbourstone Sea Grill & Pour House: a flavour bomb with aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and maple bacon.
The Arms: a massive pile of layered cheese, scallion, tomatoes and house-made banana peppers.
Tempo: an interesting concoction of barbecue chicken, pickles, feta and other lovely cheeses.
I believe any of the honourable mentions could easily have been on this list, depending on the day and personal opinons. Kudos to so many hotel restaurants making this list!