Pedro’s Restaurant and Cantina, Santa Clara, CA

Oh, Pedro’s. It’s almost painful for me to write this review. I really wanted to like your nachos. But I’m nothing if not a nacho reviewer with honesty and integrity so brace yourself, because here comes the brutal truth.

When I first read the words “individually layered” describing the nachos on the menu, I knew something was amiss. I knew something was about to go terribly wrong. In hindsight, I should have left. But I was already there. I was already seated and sipping my drink. So against my better judgement, I kept moving forward through this nacho experience.

For those of you that aren’t already aware, individual layers is not my preferred nacho architecture. (See a recent review for an additional example of my disappointment with this particular structure). I think the nacho chef at Pedro’s went to the Mexicali Grill school of nacho making. And that is no compliment.

As is typical with this structure, the chips are few and far between. They are layered “individually” with toppings and the result is like a platter of appetizers that are meant to be picked up individually, in a horizontal fashion. This is completely at odds with my nacho schema and I’m sorry but it just doesn’t sit right with me. As if this negative architecture wasn’t bad enough, I immediately noticed that the portion size was on the small side. Not that I was interested in consuming many of these, mind you, but it was still a point of annoyance.

Pedro's nachos

I’m sure you all are immediately aware upon first glance of this image what else I noticed instantly, much to my mortification. Dollops. Sigh. More damn dollops! Dollops of sour cream, dollops of guacamole. The way to go is single pile, people. For the love of god, please stop with the dollops.

These nachos were lacking in many places: No salsa. No olives. No jalapenos. No green onions. No lettuce. They were completely void of any crunch factor. The refried beans had a flavor I wasn’t crazy about.  The monterey jack cheese was fine, standard. There was some sprinkled Cotija cheese, but not much. And even all the cheesy goodness of Cotija couldn’t put a dent in my displeasure.

Pedro's closeup

Closeup of Pedro's nachos

Ultimately, these nachos were a miscalculation of epic proportion on Pedro’s part. Here’s the harsh but accurate bottom line: I could have easily made these nachos in my kitchen. With some stale chips, a can of refried beans from Trader Joe’s, and some type of cookie press contraption that would make perfect dollops of sour cream and guacamole (Oh, the horror!). Assemble, place in the microwave for 2 mins, and voila! Pedro’s nachos.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I go to a restaurant, I expect much, much more than what I could throw together myself. (And, if I may briefly toot my own horn, I’m a decent cook!) I want something that makes me say “Yum, how did they achieve this flavor explosion?” or “If only I could make nachos like this!”. I want to wonder what their secret is or what exact combination of things they used to make such a wonderful nacho experience.

So Pedro’s, I now bestow you with the (dis)honor of being only the second restaurant to receive 1 (out of a possible 5), lonely, smiling nacho. He may be smiling on the outside, but on the inside he is one sad, sad nacho.

Smiling nacho

Pedro’s Restaurant & Cantina, 3935 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara, CA 95054