I love many things about Berkeley, but I’ve yet to stumble across (or find through obsessive yelping and googling) a restaurant in Berkeley that characterizes a total Boston type for me. I’m looking for a pub with cozy booths made of dark wood and a loud but friendly vibe. The menu has plenty of bar classics, but some good veggie options and specials that signify a creative chef, or perhaps just one who wants more of a challenge than grilling burgers. The beer list is well populated with microbrews and rotates seasonally so you can appropriately celebrate summer with the rest of your city as soon as Sam Adams Summer Ale comes on tap. There were at least three restaurants fitting this description within stumbling distance if not quite within sight of my old apartment in Cambridge.
One of these restaurants Christopher’s in Porter Square was just a few friendly blocks from my front door. I have more than one memory that finds me fighting a blizzard to get the few blocks to Christopher’s. While Christopher’s is not my favorite of the cozy dark restaurant type, it has one thing that set it apart from all the others: Yuppie Nachos. Now Cambridge is a town highly conducive to yuppies, and since my friends and I could all be considered “young urban professionals,” we appreciated the dish. Also, even though yuppie nachos are meant to poke fun at all things Whole Foods and Sigg water bottles, they easily elevate the humble nacho to a snobby and delicious snack.
Yuppie nachos are made with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and guacamole. The goat cheese always melts to one side of the nacho mountain, and you can only hope you’re lucky enough to be sitting on the side of the plate with the goat cheese. Otherwise you’ll have to point to the TV monitor and yell something about the Red Sox (always works, even if it isn’t baseball season) while you deftly turn the plate back so the goat cheese faces you. The perfect bite combines the crunchy chip with some tangy goat cheese, the bright flavor of a sun-dried tomato chunk and is topped with smooth and lime-y guacamole. Pair that with a good beer and you have perfect friend food, plus the ability to enjoy the irony that a dish meant to make fun of your cultural sub-type also so perfectly fits the flavors you like. There’s nothing a Cambridge yuppie likes better than a side of intellectual irony with their bar food.
While Berkeley has awesome, local, organic food, with vegetarian and vegan options everywhere you turn, I have been unable to find my dark and cozy booth hang out. So to satisfy the need for yuppie nachos (which is really also the need for good beer and good friends), I decided to make yuppie nachos at home. I knew they wouldn’t be as much fun, without our Porter Square buddies there to fight for the goat cheese. Still, until I can find the cool bar with good beer and tasty inventive food, I’ll have to improvise.
Tortilla chips sprinkled liberally with goat cheese chunks and sun-dried tomatoes, then covered over with grated Monterey jack cheese. (which leads me to wonder if Monterey Jack is related to Monterey, CA?) Bake in the oven at 375 until the cheese is good and melty, and then top with homemade guac and serve. J and I shared a bottle of my favorite beer, New Belgium’s La Folie while fighting over the goat cheese.
So while I missed the vibe and the friends, at home yuppie nachos are nearly as good as Christopher’s. Served with a side of curious cat.