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At a point early in my childhood, I adopted nachos as my very first favorite restaurant food.
It happened in distinct and memorable stages, beginning with paper-bagged Taco Bell chips dipped carefully into a little plastic tub of gooey nacho cheese. I then graduated to ballpark nachos—think rounded rustic chips, cheese sauce pumped out of a metal vat, and a big handful of juicy jalapeño slices sprinkled on top. In my early teens I moved up to the appetizer menus of Applebee's and generic Mexican restaurants, where grilled chicken, refried beans, guacamole, and real cheese (!) put the chips in the background.
And that's about as far as it went. There didn't seem to be much more you could do with the dish, and my tastes sharpened, not to be so easily lulled by copious amounts of melted cheese.
But just when I thought I was done with nachos, I found a few restaurants around Chicago sparking new life into that old go-to. It had been about a decade since I last ate nachos, but I dove in this month with gusto.
Click on the slideshow to see them all all, and then tell us in the comments—how do you like your nachos?