The Best Nachos In LA
13 spots to get great nachos
Nachos are kind of like pizza: even when they're not the best, they're still pretty good. That's probably because, regardless of what state of mind you're in, there's a lot going on, from crunchy tortilla chips to melted cheese to whatever heartburn-inducing protein is sprinkled on top. You can hunt down a million versions of this Mexican-American classic in Los Angeles, but not all are created equal. From excellent vegetarian versions to ones topped with birria, barbecue pork, or even chutney, here are 13 of our favorite nachos in LA.
photo credit: Vamos Vamos
With five different kinds of nachos on the menu, you shouldn't have trouble finding something you're in the mood for at this fun spot on Main Street in Santa Monica. Every version is massive, a little messy, and layered with multiple kinds of melted cheese. Our top pick is the chile verde nachos, topped with a mound of hatch green chile-coated pulled pork that tastes like it's been stewing for hours. It's exactly what you want to snack on in between sips of your mezcal margarita.
photo credit: Rivera's
Rivera's Mexican Restaurant
RiA homey, family-run place on East 7th that has been open since the '90s, Rivera's in Long Beach knows how to nail the kind of nostalgic Mexican food that comes under a blanket of molten cheese, sour cream, and guac. Case in point: their signature carne asada super nachos, which come with hefty amounts of the aforementioned toppings, are finished off with pickled jalapeños and freshly chopped pico de gallo. Rivera's other strength is that they know how to package their nachos to-go without them becoming a soggy mess—a must when you're picking up food at halftime.
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This classic 24-hour window in Lincoln Heights adheres to the most important rule of great nachos: More is more when it comes to ingredients. Seriously, you won't find a single chip that isn't drenched in meat, sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos, and their secret nacho cheese sauce. And that's how it should be. You get to choose your protein, and despite the name of the place, we like the sweet and smoky al pastor best. And depending on the night—or how many bars we've been to—we'll sometimes go for papas nachos, which swap in fries for chips.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Barney's has classic sports bar nachos down pat. There are a few different options at all locations (historic West Hollywood original or bust, though), and we like the "Half Time" version if we make it in time for Happy Hour. The portion is more than enough for a few people if other snacks are on the table, and the cheese, black olives, and creamy beans touch every crisped chip. Three cheers for equal distribution—and musty sports bars where you can never tell what time it is.
photo credit: Baja Sharkeez
If you want to roll your eyes at us for sending you to a bro-y shore bar in Hermosa Beach where they sell Jell-O shots in syringes and a cocktail called the Donkey Punch, we won't blame you. But the nachos at Baja Sharkeez are legit. The secret is that these nachos come on a wide sheet of foil, allowing the chips to spread out. They're then smothered in refried black beans and gooey white cheese and finished with little ice cream scoops of toppings—you can tell someone really thought about the ergonomics of the nacho-eating experience here. Add chicken or steak if you want, but the vegetarian version is close to perfect as is.
photo credit: Gracias Madre
No matter how you feel about Gracias Madre these days, this Mexican spot in West Hollywood makes some objectively great vegan nachos. Their simple but effective masterpiece comes heaped with soyrizo, pico de gallo, cashew cheese, and spicy aleppo pepper. If you come during the restaurant's Happy Hour, which runs weekdays from 2-6pm, they'll only cost $7. We suggest eating them outside on the plant-filled patio with a discounted margarita surrounded by beautiful, ambiguously-employed people doing the same.
photo credit: Kristin Teig
Petty Cash's cauliflower nachos are basically the Langer's #19 of LA vegetarian nachos. They're iconic, and everyone else is still trying to come up with a version that beats them. Frankly, we're not even sure what makes them so good, but we have a hunch it has something to do with the crispy kale, charred cauliflower, and spicy chiles on top, all drenched in a decadent poblano crema. The large is $21, which might seem outrageous, but it'll easily feed two adults.
photo credit: Casita del Campo
Casita del Campo
Casita Del Campo is an LA institution and one of the oldest queer spaces in the city. It's the kind of place where the more people you bring, the more fun it's going to be, so ordering nachos for the table is an obvious move. And the good news is that Casita's version is quite good. Topped with refried beans, pico de gallo, gooey cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and red chile sauce, it's designed to be picked at with friends while downing too many margaritas and waiting for the drag show in the basement to start.
Even as extreme nacho lovers, we reached a point in our research for this guide when we couldn't bear to consume another pile of fried tortilla chips covered in melted cheese. Then we checked back in on Birreria Villalobos. This Tijuana-style birria truck made us forget that we'd tried 20 nachos in one week. It was like falling in love with nachos all over again—this time with the help of juicy, spicy beef birria, fresh onion, cilantro, and a mountain of jack cheese. Considering the mountain of meat that comes on top, this thing could feed a family of four. But we happily finished the whole thing ourselves.
photo credit: Saucy Chick Rotisserie
Saucy Chick Rotisserie / The Goat Mafia
Similar to a floppy pizza slice, you might feel an urge to tackle these unique nachos with a fork and knife. Fusing the best parts of Indian papri chaat with nachos, the chaat-chos at Beverly Grove's Saucy Chick / The Goat Mafia come drenched in sweet and tangy chutney. Instead of tortilla chips there's puffy wheat crisps, which soften under tamarind molasses, crema, and the house GG sauce chock full of garlic and herbs. The result is an intensely flavorful pile of soggy chips that are impossible to stop eating, especially once they're topped with creamy mayocoba beans, torn mint leaves, pickled onion, and a thick blanket of crunchy chickpea strings.
The pulled pork nachos at Gus's BBQ in Pasadena are listed as an appetizer, but this pile of food can quickly turn into half your meal. The portion size is massive, so maybe save this one for a group meal or a post-Little League lunch. There's big chunks of tender pulled pork, sweet baked beans, guacamole, barbecue sauce, and that's all before you factor in the four cheese sauce that glues this sweet, smokey dish together.
Sky's Gourmet Tacos
The nachos at Sky's Gourmet Tacos don't rely on cheese sauce for big flavor—it's all in the chips at this Mid-Wilshire spot. Freshly fried and tossed in Sky's smoky-citrusy All-Purpose seasoning, you can top these nachos with options like asada or lobster, but the delicious carnitas are our go-to. The meat is soft with crispy edges and fusions with the melted shredded cheese to form a seasoned crust that holds everything together. They're great just as they come, but if you're someone who loves a little more sauce on your nachos, douse them in Sky's housemade salsas.
Gardens of Taxco
The classic Mexican spot in West Hollywood transitioned into a full-time takeout operation a few years ago, making it a good option if you're having people over last minute and need food on the table fast. The crowd-pleasing menu has everything from tacos and enchiladas to wet burritos, but their nachos are a particular highlight. Lathered in cheese, guacamole, and sour cream, these are the kind of hearty nachos that you put down on the table at a party, and they're gone within minutes. Protein options range from sirloin steak to chorizo, but our favorite is the juicy al pastor, which has been expertly layered throughout, assuring every chip gets in on the fun.