Chickie and Pete’s (Chicken) “Cheesesteak Nachos”

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Somewhat ironically, the Brothers Schonberger hold dual citizenship with the United Kingdom, a place where good nachos have failed to thrive alongside cultural treasures like Stephen Fry, chicken tikka, and football hooliganism. As noted in the preface to our great hunt, we actually ate the worst nachos of our entire search to date in Harrods, and as a general rule English establishments rarely deliver much more than a glorified plate of Doritos with salsa.

Whenever we’re gearing up for a trip to see the fam on the other side of the pond, I think a biological mechanism kicks in to temper our normally insatiable taste for nachos. “Prepare for a disgustingly greasy English Breakfast at grandma’s,” the stomach seems to grumble. “And perhaps a plate of sausages and mash if you’re lucky.”

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Sixth Ward, NYC: A Night of Questions

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Last night I stopped by the Red Bull Snowscrapers big air event. Unfortunately it was somewhat miserable. I stood in man-made snow for an hour and felt like I was on the verge of getting frostbite, perhaps because my footwear would have been more appropriate for a game of indoor soccer than gallivanting in an ice field. On the plus side, the faux-mountain vibe and extreme cold got me in the mood to eat some nachos. So, every cloud…

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Monte Alban: A Diamond in the Rough

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Growing up in Connecticut did not afford too many opportunities for nacho hunting. There used to be a great little cantina in Canton that was a perfect stopover point on the road from Farmington Mini Golf to Unionville Mini Golf, but it’s long gone. Other than that pickings are slim, generally limited to chains and the ever-mediocre Margaritaville.

Thankfully, Monte Alban in the West End of Hartford provides a glimmer of hope. I’ve always liked this spot, though unfortunately my nut allergy precludes me from sampling the signature mole, which is apparently quite excellent. Still, it’s a solid ‘straunt for a hearty plate of enchiladas or tacos, and it’s becoming something of a go-to spot for me during sojourns to The Heartbeat.

Last Saturday my friends Greg, Tony, and I worked up an appetite for nachos in textbook fashion, playing a round of glow-in-the-dark mini golf and swinging by Cabela’s to check out the camo. It was also freezing brass monkeys, and even though nachos originated in warmer climes, it must be said that they are the ultimate comfort food on a cold day. Probably one of reasons why the best nachos orbit around ski resorts.

Admittedly,  it was hard to pass up duck wings in the Cabela’s cafeteria, but we had our eyes on the prize.

Monte Alban serves up a typical restuarant-style plate of nachos. Lard-heavy refried beans, greasy but tasty shredded chicken, and a dollop-a-piece of sour cream and guac. The individual ingredients are nothing to write home about, but everything comes together in a satisfying (if somewhat greasy) plate. Shredded lettuce and diced tomatos are a bit of a lazy cop out (a nice pico de gallo would do wonders), but the suggestion of vegetables alone, as well as the slight crunchiness of the lettuce, helps balance out the heaviness of the other ingredients. Sliced jalapenos and the thin, tasty house salsa also help in that category.

Nachos and New England have rarely been great bedfellows, but Monte Albon is certainly worth a stopover if you’re unfortunate enough to be in the Hartford area. If you do pop in for a meal, walk over to the corner of Farmington Ave. and Sisson before or after and look for the Half Door. There you’ll find an impressive lineup of beers on tap, including the excellent London Pride Porter from Fullers.