Where to Get the Best Nachos in Calgary
My love of tex-mex food has been well documented on this site. I would live on nachos if I could, and have spent a good amount of time search for the best nachos in Calgary. Blanco Cantina has been on our radar since it opened in October of this year. It brought to us by some of the owners of both Anejo andThe Mission. Because of this, many of the philosophies and goals that we talked about in our review of The Mission can be seen here - a space to gather and build community while enjoy high quality food and drink at reasonable prices. Anejo and Blanco both have a Mexican inspiration, but each space conveys this ethos in a unique manner. While Anejo is traditional Mexican with a more upscale decor, Blanco brings us tex-mex comfort food at it's finest in a super chill atmosphere. Both have their place in our hearts, but Blanco is definitely where I would pick for a night out with Isaac or friends just throwing down some tequila, eating delicious food and laughing the night away.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is how comfortable you feel. There is a combination of dark grey walls with natural wood panelling, low lighting coming from chandeliers made of recycled tequila bottles, and exposed industrial ceilings. The walls are decorated with kitsch bar signs, horns, photos of the Dos Equis man, mirrors, and shelves with candles. There are giant plants throughout the room, and huge cozy booths. The inspiration behind the decor was to pay homage to the tex-mex cantinas and pubs throughout the Southern US. Like The Mission, all seats are facing towards the center so that the people are the focal point. It makes for some glorious people watching, especially as everyone drinks more and more tequila. The bar in the center of the room is another similarity between all three spaces from these owners - it is extravagant, well stocked and made for socializing. The overall vibe is like a classier hole in the wall - somewhere you can take anyone to just relax and hang out.
The menu is extensive but not overwhelming. You have similar drink options as at Anejo which includes frozen drinks, margaritas over ice, cocktails, beers and beer cocktails. Everything is at a reasonable price, with prices ranging from $6.50 to around $12. They also have a 50/50 menu which has 50 types of rum & 50 types of tequila for some great taste testing, at prices a touch more affordable than Anejo. One of my favourite things was that the glasses of water are giant - like a litre. I'm usually the person who asks for water refills like every five minutes, so this made me happy. And you will definitely need for all of the spiciness about to go down. Blanco has glorious selection of burritos, tacos, quesadillas and fajitas - all of the tex-mex comfort foods you could dream of.
We'd been hearing good things about the nachos, and since that is my favourite comfort food, we went with that. You are given a list of ingredients and get to choose all of your toppings... and GUAC DOES NOT COST EXTRA!!!! This needs to be a thing people. I've always found that most restaurants leave me desiring a little more since the toppings are almooost hitting the spot but not quite there; something is always missing. Blanco gets around that by letting you choose everything you want! A portion of the ingredients are free, like all of the fresh vegetables. You pay a little extra for meat and special toppings (like extra cheese) but it is so worth it. We went with the smaller (medio) size and covered it in red onions, tomatoes, corn, pickled jalapenos, black olives, chopped pork and extra cheese.
The best part? The nachos are baked in layers, so literally every chips has something on it. The spicy jalapenos were balanced by the creamy cheese and sour cream, the sweet corn complemented the savoury pulled pork, and the refreshing handmade guacamole rounded it all off. Both Isaac and I agreed that these are the best nachos in Calgary - I usually need guac and salsa to make nachos edible, but I ate half without. This is a dish for sharing with friends or in an established a relationship; defs not a first date meal. We finished off the meal* with some tres leches cake, and the creamy sweetness was the perfect finale for this delicious date.
Blanco Cantina is definitely a place to just chill with friends for a good time. If we watched hockey, this is where we would come for a weekly drink and nachos to watch the game. As it is, we are already planning on bringing some friends for some margaritas and snacks. A place to kick back with friends was what inspired the owners to open Blanco; the entire place is designed to make you feel comfortable, and they have a giant patio on 17th that will be perfect for drinking late into those warm summer nights. The playlist throughout the night definitely was the icing on the cake, including Hey Ya, Hard Knock Life, Thong Song, Gangster's Paradise, and It's Tricky are just a couple of the gems we heard throughout our date. Everyday there is happy hour from 3 - 5, where you can get $5 margaritas and half-price nachos and tacos! Overall, the place reminded me of our favourite place in Portland - ROBOTACO! We've been looking for somewhere closer to home to fulfill those cravings, and I think we've found it.
*kind of - those nachos were way too much for us to finish so we took some home.