A plate of nachos piled high is nothing short of a treat. Already a mainstay on the menu, nachos are a perennial favorite fit for multiple occasions. And now more than ever, we have permission to play with this classic. After all, Mintel reports that over a third of diners will try menu items with unique flavors or ingredients if they are in familiar dishes. Whether dressed up with premium ingredients or served in their traditional form, nachos offer a starting point for introducing new flavor profiles, limited only by imagination.
"Taking cues from the loaded fries movement and the continued shift toward more sociable dining, chefs are reimagining nachos in wonderful, craveable ways,” says Katie Ayoub, managing editor for Flavor & the Menu. “It’s certainly a smart business move, as they offer up a low-cost carrier primed for premium upgrades. It’s also a proven formula for a successful menu strategy, demonstrated by the boom of loaded fries and tots, to name a few."
Nachos also offer an option beyond traditional dayparts and can present opportunities throughout the day to meet multiple consumer needs. Breakfast, snacking and late night occasions are all fair game. With snacking representing 50% of all eating occasions, 70% of millennial snackers considering anything to be a snack and over 77% of millennials claiming a snack is necessary to get through the day, the opportunity to capture their away-from-home dollars is bigger than ever. And with a consumer audience eager to try something new, a plate of nachos becomes a base from which to build. From upscale proteins and ingredients, unique combinations and global mash-ups ranging from Mediterranean to Asian, all rules fall away and anything goes.
“WHEN OUT WITH FRIENDS, I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING I HAVEN’T TRIED BEFORE. I DON’T WANT TO GO TOO FAR OUT THERE SO I LOOK FOR SOMETHING FAMILIAR, INTERESTING AND FUN.”
The Perfectly Constructed
Bite is the Endgame
“Nachos are always a top choice for me. Creamy, crunchy, salty, savory flavors—everything I love—loaded into one bite. They’re my go-to treat.”
Nachos have evolved to become much more than a pile of chips covered with cheese. However, even when covered with beans, chili, chicken or beef and colorful garnishes like olives, onions, sour cream and guacamole, the bottom of the pile could be less desirable. Then, the single layer nacho popped up on menus and provided a solution. All of the goodness strategically placed and melted so that every bite is as good as the one before. Piled high, or laying low, the opportunity to construct every chip for perfection is before us. And while nothing is off limits, the process of building each bite should be thoughtful. Texture, balance and bold flavors are all considerations in creating an offering that is on track to deliver on your brand and delight diners.
Seoul Taco, St. Louis, tops nachos with roasted sesame seeds and kimchi to bring a Korean flair to the plate. Bubbakoo's, a fast-casual spot along the Jersey Shore, offers 16 different protein options. Even vegan diners can share in the treat. At SunCafe in Studio City, CA, the vegan nachos start with jicama and blue corn chips before being topped with cashew cheese, vegan sour cream, SunChorizo, jalapeno and veggies.