~1 min read


These are dive-bar-drunk-food easy and incredibly good. The secret is in the cheese mix.

This is an attempt at recreating the nachos from my favorite (and now sadly closed) bar, The Grizzled Wizard. There are a few really great things about them:

  • Because there was only ever one person serving both food and drinks (and you make a lot more money shuffling half a bottle of fernet down someone’s throat than you do serving nachos) they’re very simple to make.
  • While I use my precision oven, the originals were made with just a toaster oven. No fancy equipment required!
  • The cheese mix is useful pretty much anywhere you want a solid fat/heat/richness combo and a good melter.
  • Everything except the final heating stages can be prepped. With some forethought these can hit the table in 10 minutes, no problem.

Despite the tight constraints the bar was working under they managed to produce some seriously excellent versions of classic pub grub like these nachos and ham-and-cheese sandwiches (more on that later). So I’m thrilled to have been able to make such a close copy of their recipe from home.


Rating: ★★★★☆
OG Credit to: the Grizzled Wizard staff



  • 1lb Mexican chorizo
  • 1/2lb Tillamook pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2lb Cacique queso quesadilla
  • 1 bag Solena white tortilla chips
  • Secret Aardvark hot sauce
As usual, you can drop all of those in your Instacart cart by clicking here (alternatively here). If you aren't in the Seattle area, send me an email and I'll find you substitutes.


Buying your cheeses

Nachos are built on chips but defined by their cheese. This recipe uses a mix of pepper jack and queso quesadilla to get a bit of heat, great melting properties, and the richness of the queso quesadilla. It is not essential that these be fancy, but they should be as flavorful as you can get. I've used Tillamook pepper jack and am reasonably happy but their habanero jack would probably be better. Cacique is my preferred queso quesadilla. Because both cheeses are such good melters and we are not forming a sauce with them it is not essential to buy blocks and shred your own cheese, but it will save you a good bit of money.

Buying chorizo

The only requirements for this chorizo are that it be Mexican-style chorizo and not Spainish-style. The correct kind will be a fresh sausage usually sold near breakfast sausages in the meat department and will have a pronounced red color. It will not be hard, come in slices, or otherwise show signs of having been aged. Like many fresh sausages you really have to be paying attention to know the difference between very expensive Mexican chorizo and very inexpensive Mexican chorizo, and I cheap out here if I can.

Buying chips

Most of the time I'm a Juanita's fan but Solena chips lack the pronounced corn grains that make Juanita's so good. That's an advantage here: their more delicate texture and higher oil content lead to a sense that you made and fried some really quite good tortillas rather than buying the cheapest bag of chips at the store. My one complaint is that they really are delicate-- if you have more robust but still smooth chips available near you go with those, or optionally mix and match. Personally I find the white corn chips wind up looking better on the plate, but that's up to you.

Buying hot sauce

There isn't much more personal than your choice of favorite hot sauces so I won't belabor this point. The cheese and chorizo here are not hot enough to climb into grade-A nacho territory for me on their own, so hot sauce is an essential part of the mix. It should be actually hot, much hotter than Tobasco or sriracha, in order to fully climb above the level of fat and salt here.


Prepare your chorizo

Fry the chorizo in a skillet, smashing with a wooden spoon occasionally. Continue to cook until crumbly and very, very red, about 10-12 minutes. This can be refrigerated or frozen for use later.

Shred your cheese

If your cheese did not already come pre-shredded (it doesn't matter much for this recipe), go ahead and shred it now. Finer shreds will melt more quickly. This can be refrigerated or frozen for use later.


Preheat your oven

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Do not use convection at this point. If you have a steam oven, turn the steam off. You want this to heat from the bottom only if you have a rear heating element or roast setting.

Arrange your ingredients in a tray

Line a 1/4 sheet pan with parchment paper. Lay down a single layer of chips. Then, add an amount of chorizo that will feel like too much. Add a layer of cheese, then some more chorizo, whatever other toppings you like, some hot sauce, and more cheese. Repeat on top if you want two- (or three-) layer nachos. Use more cheese than you think.

Bake your nachos

Put your nachos in your preheated oven. Watch them closely until the cheese has melted but not browned, then move on to the next step.

Toast your nachos

Turn on your broiler with the nachos still inside. If you have convection broil this is a good time to use it. If you have multiple options for broil temperatures you want it to be a fairly low broil-- 450 to 500 degrees will still only take a few minutes and is much easier to control than, say, 1500 degrees. Once they're browned to your satisfaction, pull them out and serve immediately.


Pan cleanup

Pull the parchment paper out of the pan and use a plastic pan scraper to get any burned-on cheese off. Then wash and rinse as normal.