Editor's note: With its latest Best Nachos win in 2009, the Economy Shoe Shop was elevated to the Best of Halifax Hall of Fame.
Somewhere along the way the restaurant became the default place to bring someone who just arrived in town, the hub from which the city spreads out in all directions, like spokes. Having won the Best Nachos so often the category was retired to the Hall of Fame this year, the Shoe also regularly gets props for its overall vibe. It's that jungle canopy, with deftly placed plants and lighting to suggest an exotic, intimate locale, somewhere that, ironically, might be far away from Halifax. But the real irony is that when you're inside the Shoe Shop, there are few places that now feel more like Halifax.
What goes into the best nachos in the city? What is it that keeps us all coming back, year after year, to sample the massive, cheesy chip concoction? Well, for starters, it’s the joint in which it’s served.
“I don’t know, man, I think it’s just the whole thing. It’s the ambiance of the place...it’s a whole package deal, you know what I mean?” says Nick Slayter, a cook at the Economy Shoe Shop. A regular winner of The Coast’s Best of Halifax awards for Best Place for a First Date, Best Place to Spot Celebrities and Best Decor, nachos are only one of the reasons the Argyle Street destination fills up on any given night of the week. And with the large tables ready to accommodate big groups, there’s nothing much more communal—-besides a pitcher of beer—-than a plate of nachos that everyone can dig into. On a busy night, say, one where the Mooseheads are icing the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles or Neil Young is rocking the free world, the Shoe Shop can assemble as many as 200 plates of nachos for its hungry customers. And the nachos themselves? They are constructed using:
•Cheese: marble cheddar
•Toppings: definitely tomatoes
“Most people have them on there every time,” says Slayter. “I never see anyone asking for no tomatoes.” Also available are onions, green peppers, jalapenos and chicken. “Occasionally people ask for different things, but we keep it pretty straightforward. If you specialize too much it’s taking away the thing that people like about it.”
Everything is fired into an oven for a few minutes before delivery, piping hot, to your table, along with salsa and sour cream, of course.