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How I spent my Saturday at a nacho crawl

December 1st, 2009 · 4 Comments · Cantina Los Caballitos, La Lupe, Royal Tavern, nachos, south philly

I have to begin my recap of the nacho crawl with a big thank you to Lee at Nachos NY for putting together such a fun event. Even with an unexpectedly large number of nacho lovers in Philly turning up to get their nacho on, the folks from Nachos NY did an excellent job of making sure we ate plenty of nachos. I will say that my usually annoying habit of getting everywhere early was a great advantage on Saturday. The early bird gets the nachos or something.

There was initially some confusion at the first stop of the nacho crawl. Royal Tavern, a very popular weekend brunch spot was packed when we showed up at 3. Add around 70 nacho eating freaks and there was some initial stress. Luckily for me and my two nacho eating companions, we scored a table quickly and scarfed down a huge plate of chicken nachos.

Crowded Royal Tavern 2

They are all here for the nachos

The nachos at Royal come topped with mozzarella and jack cheeses, pico de gallo, lettuce, jalapeños, sour cream and guacamole. You also have the option of adding grilled chicken or vegan beef. My not-a-big-meat-eater friend would have appreciated trying the vegan beef but we felt lucky enough to get a full plate of the chicken nachos. I found our nachos rather cold. I think this could have been due to two things; they were making nachos for like 70 people and there were a lot of cold toppings on the nachos. I will say that the Royal Tavern was the most generous with the guacamole that day. That is huge in my book. It was nice not to have to ration the guacamole. They were actually very generous with their toppings. So much so that we had a lot of left over toppings but no chips to dip them in. I am ok with this problem when it comes to nachos because the opposite problem generally occurs where you have too many chips and not enough delicious toppings. My only other minor complaint is that I would have enjoyed some bean action on the nachos but that is more of a personal preference. Oh and I also realized that I’m not a huge fan of lettuce on my nachos. The things you will learn from a nacho crawl.

Chicken nachos - Royal Tavern

Chicken nachos at Royal Tavern

La Lupe was our next stop on the nacho crawl. Again we got there early so we had our pick of the tables. At this next stop, they separated the tables into the kind of nacho you wanted. I kindly left my not-that-into-meat friends and sat with some friendly strangers at the spicy pork table. Mmm. I will leave you for pork, believe it. Oh and hello friendly strangers, if you happen upon this post.

Packing La Lupe

We took over La Lupe, it was awesome.

I was lucky enough to try not one but two kinds of pork nachos at La Lupe. The first was the spicy pork and my least favorite of the two pork nachos. I found the spicy pork not very spicy and a little on the dry side. I did enjoy the generous amounts of cheese and crema on the nachos. I will give them a sad face for the puny serving of guacamole.

Spicy pork nachos 2 - La Lupe

Spicy pork nachos at La Lupe

The  non-spicy pork had a lot more flavor than the other pork nachos. I want to say that it was actually carnitas on the nachos but I can’t confirm nor deny this. The fact that we got these non-spicy pork nachos was surprising because we were just expecting to get the spicy ones. I also enjoyed these more because they had refried beans, which was the only time I saw them on any nachos during the crawl. I am a huge fan of refried beans so I am always happy to seem them on pretty much anything. This did lead to a bit of a soggy nacho eating experience. I did enjoy the chopped avocado instead of guacamole on these. I would say that these were my second favorite of the day. I also appreciated that the nacho crawl organizers brought a couple of cases of Tecate for us to enjoy at this BYOB.

Pork nachos - La Lupe

Pork nachos at La Lupe

Our final stop was at Cantina los Caballitos and was also our most festive. I’m a sucker for Christmas lights in unexpected places. It was a great end to a great day of nacho eating. I enjoy this Cantina so much more than the one closer to my house.

Cantina los Caballitos

The Cantina wins for best atmosphere

Their nachos are topped with roasted corn, pickled jalapenos, black beans, pico de gallo, melted cheese, and crema. You can get them with chicken, pork, steak, or vegan beef. During our time at the Cantina we were able to try the steak and vegan beef nachos.  My not-that-into-meat friend was very excited when a plate of vegan beef nachos were set in the middle of our table. I would say that any meat eater would enjoy these nachos. I found them to be much spicier than the steak nachos. While I missed having guacamole on my nachos, I found the nachos at the Cantina to be the best constructed nachos of the day. There was a good balance of toppings and chips. I didn’t eat a single soggy chip during my time there. Also the steak nachos were the best tasting nachos I had that day. The grilled steak pieces that I found on the nachos were well seasoned and tender. Sorry for the bad picture below, I didn’t want to be obnoxious and use my flash. I figured I was being obnoxious enough at this point in the day.

Steak nachos - Cantina los Caballitos

Steak nachos at Catina los Caballitos

Another reason I enjoyed our last stop on the nacho crawl was due to the delicious cocktail listed below. Due to an unfortunate miscommunication with our waiter, I ended up drinking two of these. I know my life is the worst. I was initially set on having a margarita at our last stop but when I saw this drink listed I immediately changed my mind. It was a refreshing end to a long day of nacho eating.

Tasty cocktail - Cantina

El Amargo cocktail at The Cantina

So with my El Amargo in one hand I raised a glass to a long day of nacho eating. I will end this post by saying that most everyone I met during the nacho crawl were awesome and super friendly. Eating from a communal plate of nachos will bring people together. I could complain about the certain group of people who believed that the nacho crawl was their own personal nacho buffet but I won’t waste my time on them. Too late. I was very satisfied with the number of nachos I ate that day. I didn’t stuff myself but found that I got way more nachos that I expected for the $10 cover. I suggest a future nacho crawl in the Northern Liberties area. We have a few nacho eating options up there.

Final thought: I’m a big fan of the nacho crawl.

El Amargo - Cantina 2

El Amargo is el deliciouso

Royal Tavern
937 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 389-6694

La Lupe
1201 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA?
(215) 551-9920?

Cantina Los Caballitos
1651 East Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 755-3550


4 Comments so far ↓

  • DeVo

    Ah…Cantina has a kick-ass jukebox too.

  • Marc

    I haven’t been to La Lupe in ages, great pics and incentive to get myself to S. Philly soon. That triptych (that is what it is called, right?) is really great and the nachos there clearly benefited from the natural light (at least for the photos).

  • Kurt

    Royal Tavern has always been my #1 burger and brunch spot. Whenever I have guests from out of town I make sure to take them to Royal Tavern. I always dig their draft beer selection.

    Since the Nacho Crawl, I have one more thing to rave about at Royal Tavern, their nachos. I will admit that I was always reluctant to try them as I never thought of Royal Tavern as a choice place for Mexican fare. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The portions are generous, perfect blend of toppings and TONS of guacamole (always an essential when I want nachos). I know it’s hard to stray away from Royal Tavern’s award winning burger, but I highly recommend their nachos.

    The nachos at Cantina Los Caballitos are equally as amazing. I’m a regular customer at Cantina so I am no stranger to their nachos. I like that I can get a small order if it’s for myself or a large order if I’m sharing with a friend. Cantina’s nachos come topped with black beans as well as pico de gallo, crema and jalapenos. Even though I’m not vegetarian, the vegan beef nachos are easily my favorite. Amazing flavor, not too spicy and has great texture. I also can’t forget about Cantina’s margaritas! Perfect prices and perfect flavors. They have an insane amount of margarita flavors to choose from and can get them on the rocks, frozen or up.

    I left the nacho crawl uncomfortably full but will easily say that Royal Tavern and Cantina have the most delicious nachos!

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