Not Your Ordinary Nachos: Tilted Kilt's Taters vs. Hangover Brunch at Dos Gringos

Imagine a plate piled high with crisp tortilla chips smothered in seasoned ground beef, tomatoes, beans and a tasty cheese-like substance. Yeah, there's nothing wrong with that picture. But plain old restaurant nachos can get (pardon the pun) stale, since the chips often come from a bag and the ingredients are always the same. Well, almost always.

For this week's Battle of the Dishes, we tracked down two popular local restaurants offering unusual nachos: one, a pseudo-Scottish local pub chain that subs potato chips for tortillas and the other a cheap-ass Mexican joint with a new breakfast nacho platter.

In One Corner: Tilted Kilt
660 W. Warner Rd. in Tempe

This is the way the Irish do nachos.

Our first stop was Tilted Kilt, a Scottish/English pub concept that started out in Vegas and spread like wildfire (or herpes, whatever) around the country. If you've never been there, let's just say the main draw isn't the food. Or the beer. Or the decor, though the cherry wood, pool table and huge bar definitely give the place a cozy Irish pub feel.

​Waitresses in teensy kilts the size of table napkins and matching plaid bras parade around the dark pub loaded down with trays of fried pub foods, yard pints and shepherd's pie. Thus the idea that your kilt will be er, tilted upwards in salute if you dine there regimental (sans underwear). Thank god the male patrons there on our visit were all wearing pants.  

One of the house specialties at Tilted Kilt is TK's Irish Nachos, described as "fresh-cooked crispy potato chips covered with cheese sauce, seasoned ground beef and tomatoes." If you're imagining a bag of Lay's smothered in nacho toppings, you've only got it half right. Irish "chips" are slices of fried potato akin to round steak fries. Our order arrived and we dug in.

The chips were excellent -- thick slabs of piping hot fried potato with a crisp outer layer of skin and very little grease. "I admit I like the thinner ones more," said my dining companion, remarking on the potato slices which had curled up into hard American-style chips. "I should try this at home with kettle-cooked chips." I preferred the starchier slabs that had just slightly crisped around the edges. But hey, there's something here for everyone.

Another fine Scottish dish: The MacHawaiian pizza.
​The beef was relatively lean and not greasy, though the spice mix was so light it was barely detectable. Tomatoes were light and refreshing, albeit underripe. Nacho cheese was a step above the congealed "cheese food" you get with movie theatre nachos, reminding me of childhood snacks made with Velveeta. Natural cheese might taste better, but the fake stuff melts cleaner and works well for nachos. 

The only thing missing was black beans, which would've given the dish another shot of earthiness to balance out the meat and heavy cheese. Otherwise, TK's Irish Nachos is a solid starter -- even if a real Scotsman would hurl at the thought of this being considered an authentic Scottish dish.

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I vote to add a favorite that I have found in Chandler--Murphy's Law Irish Pub's Irish Nachos. They are to die for!!

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