TGI Fry-Day: Do Nachos Get Much Better than the Machos Nachos at Chicago's Little Goat?

TGI Fry-Day

Reviews of fried food in Chicago.


[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

We commemorated last year's Super Bowl with a look at the best Buffalo wings in the city. This time around, I had nachos on my mind. But before I even started, I got—how shall I say this—absolutely terrified. The ghosts of nachos' past began to haunt my dreams, as I imagined all the pools of congealed cheese sauce, pasty refried beans, greasy ground meat, and haphazardly chopped mushy tomatoes sitting atop the shattered remains of stale tortilla chips. Frightening, right? I'm sure there are a few good versions out there, and let me know if you have any suggestions, but I gave up the quest after digging into a plate of the Machos Nachos at the recently opened Little Goat. Honestly, I'm unsure if nachos get a whole lot better than this.

As all nachos should, it looks like an absolute mess, but there is an underlying method to this madness that separates it from most others. Chef Stephanie Izard loves to vary texture with her dishes, and nachos are all about the mix of crunchy chips, tender meat, and crisp vegetables. Izard also knows when to pull back from the absurd cliff and when to freely jump off.

Instead of a deluge of cheese sauce, only a thin layer of shredded cheddar is melted on top of the freshly fried, and very crispy, tortilla chips. But any missing heft is more than made up for with heaps of tangy and tender barbecue pork. She keeps the pickled chiles in play, while upping the acidity with pickled red onion. Some beans, sour cream, and sliced avocado round out the plate.

When the plate landed at my table, my wife and I both laughed at the massive offering, only to find ourselves dangerously close to polishing the whole thing off before our entrees arrived. Consider this your warning.

Little Goat

820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (map)