It’s tough to say where, exactly, nachos originated. It’s not the sort of thing academics spend time on. But, thanks to a U.S. library researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary, there seems to be consensus on where the term for the now-ubiquitous Tex-Mex dish originated: Piedras Negras, Mexico.
There, a chef named Ignacio Anaya was visited one day by a group of U.S. military wives whose husbands were stationed just across the border in Fort Duncan, Texas.
The year was 1943 and all the restaurants were closed, so the women dropped by the last restaurant standing, the Victory Club, and met Anaya, who agreed to whip something up from what was left in the kitchen.
He sliced and fried some tortilla, added some cheddar cheese and jalapenos, tossed the mixture into the oven and after a few minutes served it to the women.
The name “nacho,” a common nickname for Ignacio, is also what people called Anaya. When he served the Texan women, he reportedly called his dish “Nachos Especiales.”
And so the legend was born.
Fast forward seven decades and nachos have become a staple of American cuisine. With sweater weather upon us, the Jackson Hole News&Guide paid homage to the barroom staple and favorite comfort food.
For the past few weeks, Scene has been sending News&Guide staff and freelancers to establishments around town — even to Grand Teton National Park — with a simple mission: Eat nachos and describe their character, which in some cases has changed and in others has hewed closely to Anaya’s tradition.
Reporters philosophized, waxed poetic and munched their way through the assignment, giving us “Nacho Business,” a snapshot of 10 select servings of nachos from across Teton County.
A high-quality bargain
Hatch Taqueria and Tequilas, 120 W. Broadway
$11 during lunch; $5 during Happy Hour
Nachos at Hatch are offered only during lunch and Happy Hour, which is 4 to 5 p.m. daily. So if you can sneak away from work early, this is the plate you want to share with a friend.
They are also some of the cheapest in town, just about $8 with tax and tip during Happy Hour. And the serving is plenty.
Choose from pulled pork, chicken tinga or the vegetarian option that comes with multicolored cauliflower. Melted cheese covers the top layer and black beans, Mexican corn, sour cream, jalapenos, guacamole and pica de gallo round out the dish.
Served on a round plate and not too spicy, these nachos pair well with a bottle of Tecate and a lime wedge.
— Emily Mieure