Do Columbia’s nachos make the grade?

Friday, May 2, 2008 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 3:23 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The nacho. What a great concept.

The combination of crunchy chips doused in cheese and an array of toppings is so simple, yet so good. So good that they are on menus everywhere as a staple among American appetizers.

We looked around town for the ultimate nacho, using this criteria; Price, taste, crunch factor and the amount of topping per chip. Here’s how four Columbia restaurants stack up.

Addison’s, 709 Cherry St.

Nachos Bianco: B

Price: Small $6.50, large $8.25

Includes: Asiago cheese sauce, tomatoes, scallions, kalamata olives, banana peppers, mozzarella cheese. Add-ons: chicken, black beans, or chorizo sausage

Notes: Nachos Bianco are too pricey. The array of toppings is great, but they barely cover the first layer of chips, leaving the rest bare. Chips are nice and crunchy; adding chicken or black beans is a must for overall taste.

Gaucho’s, 10 Southampton Drive

Nachos Supreme: A-

Price: $5.50 and FREE Tuesdays, 9-11 p.m.

Includes: Cheese sauce, olives, jalapenos, tomatoes and beef

Notes: Every chip is both crunchy and drenched in nacho cheese. There is enough beef and tomatoes to almost make up for the limited toppings. Still, eating this concoction is quite messy. Look under the tapas section of the menu.

Campus Bar and Grill, 304 S. Ninth St.

Nachos: D

Price: $6.59; add ground beef or chili for $1.79

Includes: Cheese sauce, tomatoes, jalapenos, black olives with sides of salsa and sour cream

Notes: These are glorified stadium nachos. Adding chili makes them worth eating but pushes the price over $9 with tax, not including tip. While the cheese is plentiful, there are few toppings in sight and sides come in containers too small for dipping.

El Rancho Mexican Restaurant, 1014 E. Broadway

Nachos: A+

Price: $4.03; add chicken for $5.70 including tax

Includes: Liquid cheese

Notes: These nachos may seem bare bones, but the homemade chips don’t need anything more than the white liquid cheese and maybe shredded chicken. The price is great for the serving size, and the chips are warm but crunchy. A must-eat for nacho lovers!

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