Breakside Dekum Pub
820 NE Dekum St., 719-6475, breakside.com.
$5 not-so-mini nachos from 3 to 5 pm and 9 pm to close daily.
The imperial nachos at this brewpub are legendary: a full-size serving platter piled high with guac, beans, Jack cheese and smoky pulled pork. The secret ingredient? Good old-fashioned pickled jalapeños, which give a little prickle of heat and offset the creaminess of the dairy.
304 SE 2nd Ave, 718-2337, wayfinder.beer.
$5 for "small"
The spicy nachos at this pub (and theoretical brewery) don't have any meat, and don't require it. Ultra-crisp housemade chips are lightly and evenly topped with black-bean puree, pico de gallo, creamy cheese and ultra-thin slivers of jalapeño and lettuce. Nearly every bit has everything in perfect proportion, with no rooting or spooning required. It's an effortless blast of flavor, and the type of dish that'll make you resent the labor-intensive nachos served elsewhere.
2424 E Burnside St., 1438 NW 23rd Ave., matadorrestaurants.com.
$5 from 4 to 6 pm and after 10 pm.
The arguments against the Matador, which changed its name from Casa del Matador after the real Matador closed: It's a yuppified Tex-Mex place from Seattle with overwrought decor and pricey enchilada platters. The argument for: these nachos, which are $5 at happy hour, and the excellent people-watching. The opulently appointed nachos trend meaty and come on a huge platter with extra-crisp chips and lots of cheese.
1620 NW 23rd Ave., 894-9374, lompocbrewing.com.
$5 from 4 to 6 pm.
Along with $2.50 pints all day on Miser Monday or Tightwad Tuesday, the $5 happy hour nachos at this mini-chain of local brewpubs are one of the great unsung pleasures of Portland. They're a simple affair, a pyramid of chips, cheese, olives and beans topped with dollops of sour cream and guac. There's a little cup of salsa served on the side, which always either runs out in five dips or goes untouched.
2045 SE Belmont St., 232-3227, facebook.com/nachocityshakedown.
$6.50 from 4 to 7 pm daily.
Conquistador has the best bar nachos in the city of Portland. There are quirkier renditions, bigger ones, and cheaper ones. But for the money, and for your taste buds—with five different salsas from which to choose, Mexican white cheese on top; and fresh, warm chips as a base for an ungodly array of non-meat toppings—your heaven is here, in a bar devoted to free jukeboxes, smoking on the patio and ironic appreciations of velvet Spaniards.
Night Light Lounge
2100 SE Clinton St., 731-6500, nightlightlounge.net.
$5 from 2 to 7 pm daily.
On a sunny afternoon on the enclosed back patio of the Night Light, these beany, beefy, guac-topped nachos have no equal—a somewhat soupy, savory mess of toppings that blend into deep comfort atop a multicolored harvest of chips. It's like chili in nacho form, and it's killer.