This week, thousands of basketball fans are traveling to downtown Kansas City for the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament.
The four-day event is bound to arouse big rivalries and big appetites. Need to fuel up before a big game? Chow down on one of these 10 nacho plates like a champion — all are within walking distance of the Sprint Center.
Pulled pork nachos at Plowboys Barbeque
Earlier this year, Blue Springs-based Plowboys Barbeque opened a second location at 1111 Main St., bringing local barbecue back to downtown Kansas City. Plowboys is known for its tender, juicy pulled pork — try it atop barbecue nachos ($8.98).
The best-selling specialty starts with tortilla chips fried at the Blue Springs location. Smoky shreds of pork, creamy queso and your choice of Plowboys barbecue sauce (try the hot and sweet En Fuego) finish the shareable snack. Jalapenos and sour cream squiggles are optional.
You can also order Plowboys’ nachos with brisket, chicken or a combination. Pick your favorite and drive to the basket (of nachos) like there’s two seconds on the shot clock.
Irish nachos at The Dubliner
The Dubliner, an Irish pub across from the Sprint Center at 170 E. 14th St., is known for Gaelic specialties such as fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, and shepherd’s pie. Head chef Jonathan Thomas uses locally raised lamb in the rich, crumbly filling of his shepherd’s pie, which he also uses to make Irish Nachos ($12).
The nachos, which top homemade potato chips with shepherd’s pie filling, Irish cheddar cheese, a dribble of veal demi-glace and a scoop of mashed potatoes — aren’t always on the menu. But Thomas says the kitchen will make them upon request.
Irish Nachos at McFadden’s Sports Saloon
McFadden’s Sports Saloon, 1330 Grand Blvd., also serves Irish nachos. But unlike The Dubliner, McFadden’s uses crispy waffle fries as a base layer. Guinness beer cheese, pico de gallo, green onions and sour cream top the loaded appetizer, which costs $8. Add sliced bratwurst or chicken for $2 — it is March Madness, after all.
Espi-Nachos at Johnny’s Tavern
Need to take a fast break? Cross Grand Boulevard to Johnny’s Tavern. The locally owned sports bar drizzles its addictive espinaca cheese sauce all over tortilla chips to make Espi-Nachos ($8.99). The nachos come with your choice of chicken or beef, plus pico de gallo, black bean salsa and black olives.
Spinach and goat cheese nachos at The Brick
Vegetarians and meat eaters alike score with The Brick’s spinach and goat cheese nachos ($7.95), a plate of chips topped with creamy white sauce, feta, mozzarella, spinach, spicy beans, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, jalapenos and olives. The Brick is located less than half a mile south of the Sprint Center at 1727 McGee St.
Chorizo nachos at The Belfry
Take a timeout from the busy Power & Light District at The Belfry, a beer and whiskey bar located a short stroll south of the Sprint Center at 1532 Grand Blvd. On the snack menu: Fries, pickles, spiced nuts and chorizo nachos ($8) topped with crumbles of the spicy pork sausage, Manchego cheese sauce and sauteed onions that get sweet flavor from sherry. For the same price, The Belfry offers a vegetarian version of the nachos made with spiced jackfruit.
Angus nachos at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
The Flying Saucer, 101 E. 13th St., boasts 76 beers on tap and a deep bench of pub food offerings (bratwurst, pretzels, hot wings…). You’ll need something cold and bubbly to wash down the Flying Saucer’s spicy Nacho Libre ($8.99), which come fully loaded with queso, black beans, pico de gallo, cheddar, guacamole and habanero sour cream.
Fried plantain nachos at Tengo Sed Cantina
Tired of tortilla chips? Switch up your nacho game with fried plantain nachos ($9) at Tengo Sed Cantina, 1323 Walnut St. Plantains look like bananas but, when fried, taste more like potatoes. Tengo Sed Cantina tops its plantain chips with black beans, queso fresco and green onions. Add chorizo for $2.
Quaff Nachos at The Quaff Bar & Grill
Sometimes you need a huge plate of nachos, and sometimes you don’t. The Quaff, 1010 Broadway, serves a half order of its classic nachos for $4.95 (a full order costs $8.99). The tortilla chips come with your choice of beef or chicken, plus cheese sauce, salsa, black olives, chives, jalapenos and sour cream. Bonus: It takes about 15 minutes to walk from The Quaff to the Sprint Center, so you’ll burn off a few of those nacho calories on the way back to the big game, especially if you hustle.
Chili cheese nachos at The Peanut
The Peanut is almost a mile from the Sprint Center, but it’s so worth the walk. The cozy neighborhood bar at 418 W. Ninth St. has cheap drink specials ($6.50 Miller Lite and Coors Light pitchers from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday), cool vintage beer signs, and an “everybody knows your name” vibe. The wings are MVPs on Kansas City’s bar food scene, but don’t overlook the chili cheese nachos ($10), sturdy round chips topped with queso so good you’ll want to lick it off the plate, plus chunky homemade chili, shredded cheese and sour cream. The salsa on the side is perfect for dunking the handful of naked chips at the bottom of the pile.