It all started with an email chain from one of Chris's friends. We'll call him Uncle Mike.
Uncle Mike said, "Hey, want to go on a nacho bar crawl?"
I wrote back, "Am I dreaming?"
He said "No, this is real." And just like that the NachoAverageBarCrawl 2015 was born. For the next few weeks Uncle Mike put in countless hours of hard work and research trying to find the best spots in Lincoln Park to accommodate our nacho crawl. His selection process was extremely competitive. I think he had more than 500 applicants in the beginning but in the end he cut it down to just five top spots.
The week leading up to the crawl I knew I needed to get in the right mindset and condition so I prepared myself by making a plate of homemade nachos every single day. The night before the crawl I was so excited I could barely sleep. So I made a plate of nachos at 1:00 a.m. to calm my nerves.
The day finally arrived and we started our crawl at 1:00 p.m. at The Crossing. We toasted to the event with beers and Fireball shots and then watched as this beauty was placed in front of us.
Usually when nachos are set in front of me I begin attacking them like a ravenous wolf so it was slightly difficult for me to pace myself in the beginning.
It's clear The Crossing set the bar pretty damn high right from the start. Their nachos were oven baked, extremely generous on the chicken, and covered in a mix of "nacho appropriate" vegetables. There wasn't a bare chip on the plate which is always a hard task to achieve during nacho preparation. I usually prefer shredded cheese as opposed to the cheese you see above, but they were still delicious and I really couldn't complain. In fact I thought I'd be nacho hungover today but after looking at this photo I could eat them again right now.
Stop 2: Racine Plumbing.
It's been said before that nachos are like snowflakes, no two are alike and if you look closely enough at their true beauty you'll see a family of Who's setting up a Christmas tree right before you eat them.
When these were set on our table at Racine we all kind of gasped. Uncle Mike had to look away because he teared up. He said it was dust, but we all knew.
The authentic shredded chicken, the real cheese, the heaving piles of refried beans (you can't see them, but they were there) it was all so good. These are the kind of nachos that require a fork and another notch on the old belt.
We left Racine knowing these would be hard to top.
Stop 3: Matisse Tavern.
Matisse calls their nachos "gourmet nachos." They're like the fancy skinny cousin of the nachos you see above who lives in New York and wears all black and pronounces "human" like "uman." Less is more for Matisse. Some people are really into this I imagine. Like people not from Nebraska probably.
On a regular old day I would love these nachos. But in all honestly they were in a little over their head trying to compete with The Crossing and Racine. Bless their heart for trying.
Stop 4: D S Tequila.
By the time we got here it was probably 6:30 p.m. We'd been eating and drinking for more than five hours. Our spirits were high and our tummies were full. When our waiter set these down we all just went "oh shit." Just look at this mountain of nachos. Have you ever seen something so amazing?
Ground beef and beans and cheese oh my! It was truly like a magical plate of nachos that never ended. Was there a gnome living in the middle of it all raising a family of unicorns? Would we have to solve a riddle in order to get to the next layer? What did all of this mean? We just kept eating hoping we would find out.
Two hours later the nachos were gone and we were playing beer pong and ski ball, declaring "This is the best day ever!" Or perhaps that was just me. We had a fifth stop planned, but I made a judgement call and knew none of us had a clear enough mind to give a new plate of nachos the proper respect they deserved. So we called it a night after D S Tequila.
Am I food hungover today? Yes, yes I am. I woke up this morning smacking my dry lips together like I'd gone to bed eating sawdust. But it was so very worth it.
I suppose some of you might want me to choose the best out of all four. But I can't do it. That would be like choosing between my children that I don't have. Every nacho was special in its own way and presented me with a moment of happiness and heartburn I'll never forget.
So the Nacho Average Bar Crawl 2015 was a huge success. Next up: Tommy Want Wingy Bar Crawl coming March 2015. If you'd like to join, let me know.
It's a good thing this is my 27th year not getting invited to the Oscars, I'd hate to have to put on a tight dress tonight. But next year man, I'll be ready.