Spring training is over: You’re ready for a winning nacho season

You can like April for its warmer weather, its longer days, its promise of bloom. I like April for two reasons: Royals opening day and, with it, the advent of nacho season.

I’m not saying I haven’t picked up a cheese-soaked corn chip since the end of October. Of course I have. What I’m saying is that I’m once again ready for something more than basic offseason dipping and crunching. I’m talking tubs of greasy, meaty messiness. I’m talking about nachos that demand to be eaten with a spoon. I’m talking about nachos that go at least as many innings as Yordano Ventura.

Ahead of the first pitch, I undertook a little spring training of my own. If, like me, you don’t get to spend Monday, April 6, at the K, here are five local nacho offerings that give even my beloved Kauffman Stadium brisket-acho helmet (a 2014 Pitch Best of Kansas City winner) a run for its jalapeños.

Nachos Supreme at the Peanut

(5000 Main)

Widely believed to be among the oldest bars in town, the Peanut embraces its identity as the quintessential dive. Everything from the worn, wooden tables to the ever-present smell of spicy wing sauce lingering almost tangibly on the air encourages patrons to get comfortable and stay awhile.

The inviting vibe is a good thing because it takes time to finish the bar’s massive nachos supreme, a sloppy summit of beef, melted cheese, sour cream, salsa and black olives. When I verified the dish’s contents, the bartender replied, “You can get whatever you want. This is America.” Given permission, I also ordered two Red Bulls. These are the perfect nachos to stress-eat during an extra-innings nail-biter.

Serious Nachos (vegan-style) at the Foundry

(424 Westport Road)

When I arrived to pick up a to-go order of the Foundry’s vegan nachos, which feature what the menu calls “veggie taco cheat meat,” the bartender handed me a pizza box heavy with food. Certain that the kitchen had confused my order, I flipped the lid open … and found a glorious spread of chips covered in dairy-less cheese, faux meat and real beans. Also: scallions, olives, pico de gallo and sweet pickled jalapeños. I started eating it in the car, using my pants as a napkin.

When I got home, I shared what was left (and there was plenty — that box really was weighty) with my boyfriend, an obligate carnivore, without revealing the whole “cheat meat” thing. “These are great,” he said, devouring one loaded chip after another. These nachos perpetuate my belief that good vegan chefs are magicians. In the spirit of such wizardry, this is my new go-to treat for celebrating a how-in-the-heck, come-from-behind win.

Super Nachos at Pancho’s Mexican Food

(3540 Main)

Surely I’m not the only Kansas Citian who, when someone mentions Pancho’s, feels duty-bound to confess never having eaten the 24-hour Mexican joint’s food sober. And when you make that admission, the script requires that the other person remind you that this really is for the best.

That’s not a knock, at least if you, too, appreciate just how charmingly vintage Pancho’s feels. Everything from the crackling speaker to the discarded cigarette butts by the carryout window summons nostalgia for my college days.

The nachos I bought here easily weighed 5 pounds. The dish was basically an entire bag of chips covered in cheese, guacamole, sour cream and so much meat. I got the usual undergrad nostalgia, along with a strong Taco Bell flashback. These you don’t order when your watchword is fresh. No, these are the nachos to accompany your fifth whiskey as the Royals enter a multigame skid.

BBQ Nachos at B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ

(1205 East 85th Street)

When I stopped by this roadhouse barbecue joint, the place was packed for a Thursday-night blues show. Despite the standing-room-only crowd, the kitchen had my to-go order ready in 10 minutes, and the bartender greeted me with a smile.

The good vibes only continued when I got the nachos home and dressed them up. The warm, tender pulled pork nicely complemented the sweet baked beans and seasoned nacho cheese. I didn’t even need the hot sauce or the sour cream that had come on the side. Grab these nachos before watching a game with out-of-town friends to show them what our city is all about.

Spinach and Goat-Cheese Nachos at the Brick

(1727 McGee)

No matter the time of day, the Brick feels like a party about to happen. The inventive, indulgent menu at this live-music-loving Crossroads staple encourages you to let go and live a little. Under such conditions, there’s no resisting the delicious spinach and goat-cheese nachos, which are plentiful and inexpensive.

Combining traditional nacho toppings (beans, olives, jalapeños and salsa atop a colorful bed of tortilla chips) with a creamy spinach-and-goat-cheese dip, this dish tastes pleasantly bright and unexpected. You’ll want to savor it after the Royals crush a big-market powerhouse like the Cardinals or the Yankees.

Categories: Dining, News