Alberto's Chicken Nachos - Santa Ana
What you see above is a meal I eat weekly, but especially on the weekends when the Alberto's in Santa Ana offers a complimentary soda when you order this or any other form of solid food. In truth, I'd buy it even without the free drink. It is the half-carne asada nachos and it has everything I need: something crunchy, something creamy, something meaty, something cheesy, and something, um, guacamole-y.
But as they say, variety is the spice of life, so sometimes I get adventurous. Sometimes I order the CHICKEN nachos. Yes. The chicken nachos. It is an off menu item, not unlike In-N-Out's Animal anything.
It is what you think it is: they simply substitute the carne asada with the slow-cooked chicken they usually put on the enchiladas de pollo. What results is a different dish altogether. First of all, it feels immediately healthier, though really, it's not.
It's all about the character of the chicken, which is so soft it can be spooned up like soup, and flavored just with a tinge of that seeped-in spicy simmering sauce. The meat does a Spock mind-meld thing with the rest of the components, combining into a wondrous slop that's more appropriate for a fork than fingers.
No, it won't be a replacement of the carne asada for me. But it is yet another good variation of a bastardized dish that, according to legend, has its origins in the border town of Piedras Negras where it was purportedly invented by a man named Ignacio in the 1940s.
What would the supposed inventor think of his dish now? I dunno, but if I were him I'd demand some royalties.
1425 E Edinger Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92705
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Mozambique Peri Peri - Newport Beach