Nachos on the Mind: A Brief History of the Party Classic

The world loves nachos. They’re perfect for any occasion and can be eaten as any meal. Appetizer? Yes! Lunch? Bring it on. Dinner? Why not? It’s filling and can be loaded with everything from simple cheese to a variety of meats and beans. They’re a symphony of flavor that many people crave and our taste buds go wild when they hit the stage (or our tongue in this case). But, where does it originate and how did it become the phenomenon that it is today? Read our blog post below to find out!

Nachos Originate on the Border of Mexico and Texas

According to the New York Times, nachos’ humble beginnings began in the border city of Piedras Negras, in Coahuila, Mexico. In the 1940s, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya was working at Club Victoria, when a group from Eagle Pass, Texas came in looking for something to eat. While his role was to attend to guests, the cook was out of the building. So, instead of turning the Americans away, he went to the kitchen to whip up a dish using the few ingredients he could find.

The result was a plate of tortilla chips topped with grated cheese and sliced jalapeños. It was a big hit and soon became a sought-after item from locals and travelers alike. It needed a name and Nachos Especiales – in honor of its creator – stuck. 

What About The Cheese?

Nachos take many different forms. You can use a variety of different cheeses to unleash an incredible flavor. Here are some common cheeses and their history with this dish:

  • Monterey Jack: This cheese originated in the Franciscan monasteries of Monterey, California, in the 1700s. The semi-firm cow’s milk cheese has since become an integral part of Tex-Mex cuisine. It melts easily, providing that gooey texture that’s so important to nachos, and it’s milder than other cheeses, so it doesn’t clash with the bold flavors found in a lot of Tex-Mex food.
  • Melted Nacho Cheese: When you picture a plate of nachos, you likely think of that molten yellow semi-liquid cheese that’s poured on top of your tortilla chips. This version of the dish actually wasn’t a thing until 30 years after Ignacio Garcia’s original creation. It wasn’t until Carmen Rocha, a waitress in Los Angeles popularized the dish by offering it as an off-menu item at the restaurant she worked at. It became so popular that it earned a spot on the menu and spread to other eateries across the country. 

What Do You Put on Top of Nachos?

Whatever you want! Nachos are all about freedom of choice. If you want to keep it simple, create a plate of Ignacio’s original recipe of shredded cheese and sliced jalapeños. Or, maybe you want to switch up the cheese with Monterey Jack or the semi-liquid variety?

Today, it’s also common to find other toppings like beans, guacamole, ground beef, chicken, salsa, and sour cream. Think of your plate as a canvas and your nachos as the paint. Create something that’s calling to you and enjoy. You can always follow our lead at The Original Grande by smothering your nachos with chili. 

Experience Good Eats at The Original Grande

Stop by The Original Grande to fuel your inner fiesta and experience delicious eats. We offer a variety of favorites including nachos, tacos, burritos, sanchos, enchiladas, and much more! Visit a location near you and see why people are saying “Viva Grande!”


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