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District Taco’s nachos
District Taco’s nachos
District Taco [official photo]

Where to Make a Meal Out of Nachos in D.C.

12 places to hunker down with cheese-covered chips

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District Taco’s nachos
| District Taco [official photo]

Nachos are generally found on the appetizer section of menus, but this placement belies their true potential. Done right, the indulgent treat can amount to a serious meal.

Nachos are only as good as their toppings, and D.C.'s nacho destinations allow lots of choice, from vegetarian-friendly beans to spicy chorizo or even seafood. Try a classic Tex-Mex spread at Cactus Cantina, sample pulled pork “swatchos” at American Ice Co., go for the Sichuan-inspired beef version at Archipelago, or indulge in the happy hour “nacho car” at Chuy's in Fairfax.

From the traditional to the unexpected, here are a dozen local places for nachos.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Mezcalero Cocina Mexicano

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There’s a lot to try at this Columbia Heights Mexican restaurant from the brother-and-sister team behind El Sol. The good news: a flight of mezcal will go great with some chicken or beef nachos topped with all the fixings.

The dining room at Mezcalero
The dining room at Mezcalero
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Cactus Cantina

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Found here as an appetizer, the nachos at this Tex-Mex favorite arrive with guacamole, refried beans and jalapeno peppers.

Tex Mex food Weekend cover story
Inside Cactus Cantina
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Dulcinea Bar & Grill

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Dulcinea’s nachos hold down the fort with all the classic toppings (beans, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapenos, salsa and queso fresco all come standard). Try some with chorizo for a spicy bonus or al pastor pork for an atypical combo.

American Ice Company

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The pulled pork “swatchos” at this beer and barbecue bar continue to please the crowds. The shareable portion smothers chips and pulled pork with white queso and tops it all with sweet pickled jalapenos. A vegetarian variety comes with veggie chili.

Archipelago

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Nachos get an Asian twist at this U Street tiki bar. A heaping pile of chips is topped with Sichuan-spiced ground beef, red pepper relish, jalapenos, and sour cream. Tame the heat with a tropical rum-filled cocktail.

The bar at Archipelago
The bar at Archipelago
Archipelago [official]

District Taco

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One of the most crave-worthy items at this fast-growing local chain is a plate of nachos borrachos — a mess of chips, cheese, beans, sour cream, and any featured protein from crispy bacon to slow-cooked barbacoa beef).

District Taco’s nachos
Nachos borrachos at District Taco.
District Taco [official photo]

Guapo's of Georgetown

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The gussied-up Georgetown location of local favorite Guapo’s sells a nacho stack layered with cheese sauce, beans, pico, sour cream, and jalapeno. Customers can check out options for margaritas and ceviche and take in the waterfront crowds, too.

Interior at Guapo’s
The latest Guapo’s location opened in Georgetown last year.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Taco Bamba

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Along with more classic meat and vegetarian options, chef Victor Albisu gets creative with the seafood-packed “Dark Night” nachos. The order features shrimp, crab, and calamari, along with black sauce, chiles, and avocado.

“Dark Knight” nachos from Taco Bamba in D.C.
“Dark Knight” nachos from Taco Bamba in D.C.
Greg Powers/For Taco Bamba

Tortilla Coast

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This politico go-to loads up its nachos with grilled chicken, steak, or beans and cheese (or all three, if it’s all going to be expensed, anyway). Score them for $10 during happy hour, which runs seven days a week from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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#HappyHour

A post shared by Tortilla Coast (@tortillacoast) on

Mission - Navy Yard

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Located steps from Nationals Park, the nachos volcan here are much more than a humble appetizer. The dish comes piled with white corn tortilla chips, queso fundito and queso fresca, guacamole, beans, corn, pico and jalapeños. Any protein can be added for an additional $4.

Not only does this Texas-born chain have nachos on the menu, during happy hour guests are welcome to customize the dish from the trunk of an ingredient-laden “nacho car” wedged inside the restaurant.

Interior at Chuy’s
The iconic nacho truck at Chuy’s.
Chuy’s [official photo]

Pica Taco

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Pica Taco’s nacho platter can come vegetarian, or with any of the restaurant’s many meat offerings. The chips made in-house are the real star of this dish.

Mezcalero Cocina Mexicano

The dining room at Mezcalero
The dining room at Mezcalero
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

There’s a lot to try at this Columbia Heights Mexican restaurant from the brother-and-sister team behind El Sol. The good news: a flight of mezcal will go great with some chicken or beef nachos topped with all the fixings.

The dining room at Mezcalero
The dining room at Mezcalero
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Cactus Cantina

Tex Mex food Weekend cover story
Inside Cactus Cantina
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Found here as an appetizer, the nachos at this Tex-Mex favorite arrive with guacamole, refried beans and jalapeno peppers.

Tex Mex food Weekend cover story
Inside Cactus Cantina
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Dulcinea Bar & Grill

Dulcinea’s nachos hold down the fort with all the classic toppings (beans, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapenos, salsa and queso fresco all come standard). Try some with chorizo for a spicy bonus or al pastor pork for an atypical combo.

American Ice Company

The pulled pork “swatchos” at this beer and barbecue bar continue to please the crowds. The shareable portion smothers chips and pulled pork with white queso and tops it all with sweet pickled jalapenos. A vegetarian variety comes with veggie chili.

Archipelago

The bar at Archipelago
The bar at Archipelago
Archipelago [official]

Nachos get an Asian twist at this U Street tiki bar. A heaping pile of chips is topped with Sichuan-spiced ground beef, red pepper relish, jalapenos, and sour cream. Tame the heat with a tropical rum-filled cocktail.

The bar at Archipelago
The bar at Archipelago
Archipelago [official]

District Taco

District Taco’s nachos
Nachos borrachos at District Taco.
District Taco [official photo]

One of the most crave-worthy items at this fast-growing local chain is a plate of nachos borrachos — a mess of chips, cheese, beans, sour cream, and any featured protein from crispy bacon to slow-cooked barbacoa beef).

District Taco’s nachos
Nachos borrachos at District Taco.
District Taco [official photo]

Guapo's of Georgetown

Interior at Guapo’s
The latest Guapo’s location opened in Georgetown last year.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

The gussied-up Georgetown location of local favorite Guapo’s sells a nacho stack layered with cheese sauce, beans, pico, sour cream, and jalapeno. Customers can check out options for margaritas and ceviche and take in the waterfront crowds, too.

Interior at Guapo’s
The latest Guapo’s location opened in Georgetown last year.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Taco Bamba

“Dark Knight” nachos from Taco Bamba in D.C.
“Dark Knight” nachos from Taco Bamba in D.C.
Greg Powers/For Taco Bamba

Along with more classic meat and vegetarian options, chef Victor Albisu gets creative with the seafood-packed “Dark Night” nachos. The order features shrimp, crab, and calamari, along with black sauce, chiles, and avocado.

“Dark Knight” nachos from Taco Bamba in D.C.
“Dark Knight” nachos from Taco Bamba in D.C.
Greg Powers/For Taco Bamba

Tortilla Coast

This politico go-to loads up its nachos with grilled chicken, steak, or beans and cheese (or all three, if it’s all going to be expensed, anyway). Score them for $10 during happy hour, which runs seven days a week from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

View this post on Instagram

#HappyHour

A post shared by Tortilla Coast (@tortillacoast) on

Mission - Navy Yard

Located steps from Nationals Park, the nachos volcan here are much more than a humble appetizer. The dish comes piled with white corn tortilla chips, queso fundito and queso fresca, guacamole, beans, corn, pico and jalapeños. Any protein can be added for an additional $4.

Chuy's

Interior at Chuy’s
The iconic nacho truck at Chuy’s.
Chuy’s [official photo]

Not only does this Texas-born chain have nachos on the menu, during happy hour guests are welcome to customize the dish from the trunk of an ingredient-laden “nacho car” wedged inside the restaurant.

Interior at Chuy’s
The iconic nacho truck at Chuy’s.
Chuy’s [official photo]

Pica Taco

Pica Taco’s nacho platter can come vegetarian, or with any of the restaurant’s many meat offerings. The chips made in-house are the real star of this dish.

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