Let’s be honest, it’s hard to make truly bad nachos. You can get a tasty snack from some tortilla chips, grated cheese, and a microwave in a pinch. But then there are the very best nachos, with house-fried chips, ample melted cheese, and a balanced array of fresh, pickled, and savoury toppings. Maybe add a sunny patio and local microbrews on tap for good measure.
Victoria is awash in incredible nachos, and Tasting Victoria has the lowdown on where to find the best of the best. Some are traditional, some are a little less traditional, and some are truly out of left field. Even though they’re all different, they’re all delicious in their own way.
So read on, and prepare to get snacking!
What started as a taco truck in tiny Tofino has expanded to become something of an empire. Tacofino now has outposts around the Island and the Lower Mainland, which comes as no surprise given its crowd-pleasing approach to Mexican food with a West Coast surfer twist.
In Victoria, you can find Tacofino downtown on Pandora Street, slinging tacos, burritos, nachos, and more in its fun and casual eatery. The nachos, like much of the menu, are an ode to the humble tortilla. They don’t overwhelm you with toppings or gimmicks. These are the nachos you’re apt to find at a beachside stand in Baja—except featuring many locally sourced ingredients.
The tortilla chips are freshly fried before being topped with Monterey Jack, cheddar, queso fresco, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, cilantro, and black beans. Meat lovers can add pork or chicken for a small upcharge, though these nachos really excel in their simplicity.
Moon Under Water
Moon Under Water is well-known as a popular microbrewery, but it’s no slouch on the food side of things either. Its nachos are consistently recommended as among the best in the city, thanks to the generous portion size and ample amount of toppings. Not to mention, nachos are pretty much the perfect food to pair with a group of friends and a pitcher of award-winning beer.
The nachos come piled high and topped with cheddar, mozzarella, kalamata olives, banana peppers, tomatoes, and roasted corn. Salsa and sour cream come standard, and you can add guacamole or ground beef for a few extra bucks. Compared with Tacofino’s authentic style, this is more of a Canadian take on the nacho, but no less delicious.
Despite being around for over a decade, Cenote continues to fly under the radar in the Victoria dining scene, which is part of the appeal. This feels like a spot for those in the know. A cenote is a deep sinkhole with a pool at the bottom, commonly found in Yucatán, Mexico, and it is a fitting name for this little underground oasis of a restaurant with a penchant for Mexican food.
The nachos are simple but appealing, served with salsa and sour cream and topped with jalapenos, tomatoes, green onions, black olives, and mixed cheese. The star of Cenote is definitely the cocktail menu, and a plate of nachos is the perfect pairing for one of its specialty drinks. Both the tequila-based Hidalgo Noches and the rum-heavy Sad Bastard Music have a perfect sweet and acidic punch.
768 Yates St.
Located in the heart of downtown overlooking the harbour, The Local’s patio might be the best spot in the city to enjoy a platter of nachos. Of course, all the ambiance in the world can’t make up for an underwhelming plate, so rest assured that these nachos are equally delicious when they’re enjoyed inside on a stormy afternoon.
The well-named Mile-High Nachos are indeed towering. At $29, they don’t come cheap, but the portion easily satisfies a hungry table of four, and the price includes guacamole. Avocado lovers, take note! The chips are topped with jalapenos, green onions, tomato, olives, cheddar, and Jack cheeses. Better yet, the side salsa is house-made and always tastes bright and fresh. Even in the dead of winter, the tomatoes are juicy and flavourful.
For a few extra dollars, you can add pulled pork or chicken to make a more filling meal. The pulled pork is great, but the chicken, featuring the classic Mexican flavours of cilantro and lime, is the real showstopper.
1205 Wharf St.
A relative newcomer to the Victoria dining scene, Boomtown has already attracted an abundance of avid fans, Tasting Victoria among them. It won Best Patio in the local YAM 2022 Best Restaurant Awards, and it’s well known that nachos taste better when devoured on a great patio.
With the tagline “Beer Garden & Burritos,” Boomtown has a small but delightful menu of burritos, drinks, and snacks that pair well with drinks. The nachos are at the bottom of the menu, which perhaps explains why they haven’t gotten the same hype as the burritos and tater tots, but they definitely deserve your attention.
The tortilla chips are extra thick and crunchy, the better to hold all the toppings. They come piled with cheese, pickled onions and jalapeños, cilantro, scallions, and creamy Boom sauce. You’ll pay a tad extra for salsa, guacamole, or the addition of beef, chicken, or chorizo—he chorizo is the winner—but at $15 to start, these are still some of the most affordable nachos in town.
Swans Vegan Nachos
There are surprisingly few vegan nacho options in Victoria, and this is a real opportunity missed. Chips, fresh toppings, guacamole, salsa—these things are all vegan and all delicious. Luckily, Swans is here for those looking to minimize their consumption of animal products.
The Swans vegan nachos start with house-fried tortilla chips then top them with green onions, bell peppers, olives, jalapeno, and vegan mozzarella. Side salsa and guacamole are included. It’s extra fun that they’re priced by the pound, because if you go with a big enough group, you get to say something like: “I’ll have three pounds of vegan nachos, please.”
It’s worth mentioning that Swans offers an entirely vegan menu of classic pub fare, with pizza, samosas, and even poutine!
Sult Pierogi Bar
If you take a pile of pierogies and cover them in nacho toppings, are they really nachos? When they’re this delicious, does it even matter?
The cleverly named Nah Bros at Sult Pierogi Bar are the stuff of your most gluttonous dreams. Deep-fried pierogies are topped with Jack and cheddar cheese, salsa fresca, cilantro-lime sour cream, scallions, and—the piece de resistance—crispy jalapenos.
The best part? You can choose any flavour of pierogi. No need to pay an upcharge to add meat to your Nah Bros. Just opt for the Four Thirty pierogies, filled with Italian sausage, ground pepperoni, bacon confit, and Italian seasonings. Or stick with the Mexican theme and got for the Mysteria pierogies, with smoked chili queso, ground beef, refried beans, Mexican rice, onion, cilantro, and corn tortilla crumb. Of course, there are plenty of vegetarian options as well.
Well, if we’ve accepted deep-fried pierogies into the pantheon of nachos, it’s only fair that totchos—which already have an established nacho-esque moniker—also make the list. Totchos, if you are unlucky enough to have never tried them, are tater tots fried and topped like nachos. Some of the best in the city are available at Jones Bar-B-Que.
Located on Cook Street, and expanding to a second location in Langford this fall, Jones is one of the few places in the city where you can find real Texas-style barbecue. And it’s almost certainly the only place in the area to serve real Texas-style barbecue on tater tots.
The popular totchos come topped with chopped brisket, cheddar, sour cream, barbecue sauce, pickled jalapenos, and fresh pico de gallo. The contrast between the melt-in-your-mouth brisket and the crunchy tots is glorious, and the pickles and salsa bring the perfect hit of acidic balance.
What are your thoughts on this list of best nachos? Did we miss your favourite? Is a totcho really a nacho? What about Mexi-fries? Should they make the list? These are pressing issues of great importance, and we want your feedback. Let us know in the comments or find us on social media @tastingvictoria.