The Ultimate: Nachos

Assembling a good plate of nachos is a matter of adhering to two basic, and oft-neglected, principles

Assembling a good plate of nachos is a matter of adhering to two basic, and oft-neglected, principles. First, layer carefully, leaving few chips naked or oversauced. Second, use quality ingredients — no jarred salsa or Tostitos allowed. LOWER DEPTHS TAP ROOM gets it right on both counts, even making its own tortilla chips. Creamy mounds of fresh guacamole flirt with tiny piles of herb-filled tomato salsa atop the heap of chips; chunks of grilled chicken mingle with the melted cheese, sour cream, refried black beans, and pickled jalapeño rings below. Enjoyed with something from the pub’s admirable beer selection, it’s better than bar food — it’s a meal. 476 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-266-6662.

[sidebar]Rattlesnake Bar & Grill ***1/2
The “Nacho Mama’s” plate is a parade of toppings, flavors, and colors: olives and onions; black beans, corn, and asparagus; jalapeño sauce and lettuce; shredded cheese and chicken; blends of salsas and more. The works, well, works, but totally overwhelmed the modest bed of chips. 384 Boylston St., Boston, 617-859-8555, rattlesnakebar.com.

21st Amendment ***
Underneath the overly generous sour cream and tomato salsa are massive multi-colored chips that are ready for some serious heavy lifting. But before you can dig in, you’ll have to take a knife to the grilled chicken. 150 Bowdoin St., Boston, 617-227-7100, 21stboston.com.

The Fours **1/2
Taking cue from other spicy and sauced items on its bar food menu, these Buffalo chicken nachos served with blue cheese pack a punch. Tolerate few toppings and a handful of soggy strays to (happily) leave your lips burning. 166 Canal St., Boston, 617-720-4455, thefours.com.

Sunset Grill & Tap **
Sometimes nothing substitutes a standard plate of loaded nachos, but it’s possible that you’ll overfill quickly on the South of the Border Giant Fiesta nachos here. Still impressive: The bottom chips were just as crunchy as the ones on top. 130 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-1331, allstonsfinest.com.

Cactus Club *
Despite a homemade and very refreshing Pico de Gallo topping, the Tex-Mex chili soaking into the corn tortilla chips makes for a big hot mess. Satisfactory to pick at, but even better to wash down with one of their signature — and grande — margaritas. 939 Boylston St., Boston, 617-236-0200, bestmargaritas.com.