I’m so excited to be working with the amazing folks at RW Garcia once again. This time I had the pleasure of trying out my new favorite tortilla chips, The RW Garcia MixtBag! These are the PERFECT chips for making a big pile of gooey nachos, so that’s just what I did. Y’all, DO NOT sleep on these incredible “Loaded Vegan 24/7 Nachos”! They are inspired by one of my favorite late night eats in Las Vegas, which unfortunately wasn’t vegan, and now thanks to the Hard Rock Hotel closing down, the restaurant, Mr. Lucky’s 24/7, is gone forever. This, my friends is your only way to get your hands on the best nachos of all time.
I’ve spent the last 23ish years of my life in Las Vegas, and although I’ve never really been a club-on-the-Strip kind of person, I did enjoy my fair share of local bars back in the day, but more importantly, I took advantage of the infinite number of 24 hour cafes and coffee shops available to drunken diners in this city that never sleeps.
In my pre-vegan days, my favorite place to go after a long night of drinking and dancing was “Mr. Lucky’s 24/7” located in the Hard Rock Hotel. The restaurant has since closed along with the hotel itself, and although I cannot confirm the price I used to pay, I’m pretty sure it was half-price when I would order it, which was always after midnight.
The “Fire Roasted Nachos” as they were called, were an impressive sight. One of those dishes that you see being delivered to another table that makes you ask your server, “What is that?!”. They were served piled high in a fajita pan, topped with mounds of sour cream and guacamole, with a large whole jalapeño perched on the very top like a cherry on a sundae.
But the true magic of these nachos was revealed when the pan hit the table. There was a moat of this golden sauce surrounding the fortress of chips and cheese. Upon first inspection, it appears to just be a nacho cheese or a queso, but once you tasted it, you realized it was something completely different.
It might have been my second or third time devouring these nachos when I finally asked the server what kind of sauce it was. “That,” she said, “is our ‘Ranchero Sauce’.” I followed up by asking if it was in fact cheese-based, but she said that it was more like a flour-thickened, milk-based sauce.
Years went by, but every month or two a group of friends and I would loudly stumble down the street from the smokey bars to Mr Lucky’s, demanding the after-midnight “Boneyard Menu”, which featured random selections from their regular menu, just half-priced.
Honestly, I have zero recollection of what anyone else at my table would order. Maybe a burger? Maybe a club sandwich? Maybe the 777 special, or some type of breakfast spread. The only thing I do remember is that I would order an entire order of Fire Roasted Nachos for myself, and normally finish them, or at least eat of them what I could before they just disintegrated into a puddle of unforkable mush.
Maybe I got old. Maybe the friends I used to hang out with moved away, or I found another group of friends that encouraged other late night eating habits. I really don’t know. But at some point, I just stopped finding myself behind that incredible mountain of nachos in the wee hours of the morning.
Nearly five years ago I went vegan, so that kind of curbed any ambitions I had of returning to the scene of the crime. Though, by that point, I had pretty much shopped thinking about them.
Fast forward to 2021, and RW Garcia reaches out to me to feature one of their products in a recipe video. I knew I wanted to use their MixtBag tortilla chips, and I knew that I wanted to make nachos, but I wasn’t sure exactly what direction to go in.
Then it hit me! Fire Roasted Nachos! Mr. Lucky’s Nacho’s! My favorite nachos of all time!
Since the restaurant is now closed, the first bit of research I did into veganizing this illusive dish was to find a copy of the menu online so that I could see what all was on them. The second, was to look through old Yelp images from the restaurant to jog my memory on how exactly the mound was constructed.
The menu was no help at all, and of all things they left off, there was no mention at all of the “Ranchero Sauce”. I knew I had to rely on my own taste memory, and the grainy photos from other tipsy patrons who spared a second to snap a photo before digging it.
If you Google it, “Ranchero Sauce” is a thing. Think huevos rancheros. However, the version of that sauce at Mr. Lucky’s sat their nachos in was not a spicy red sauce, but instead a rich and creamy sauce. Looking through their menu, however, I did see that they also offered huevos rancheros “24/7”, so there was probably a good chance that they just added a bit of that sauce to the other. Right?
Google told me that I could purchase a can of ranchero sauce at the supermarkets, but I couldn’t find it. There were a ton of different types of enchilada sauce, so I Googled the difference. Ranchero sauce is more of a chili-spiced tomato sauce, whereas an enchilada sauce is more of a pepper-based sauce. Instead of overthinking it, I just bought a jar of enchilada sauce and decided to run some tests.
I’ve been using cashews a lot to make roux-based sauces, and so that was the base that I started with. I added some chili powder for a bit of flavor and kick, and then I added a bit of the jarred enchilada sauce. Remembering the original sauce was kind of cheesy, I added a bit of nutritional yeast as well.
Not to be too conceited or anything, but I nailed it (with few tweaks and tastes) the first time. So, now that I had that sauce, the rest was smooth… nacho-ing.
I slathered an oven-safe plate with my version of their “Ranchero Sauce”, piled it high with incredible RW Garcia Yellow & Blue MixtBag tortilla chips, and then topped those with more sauce, some vegan cheese, and some Soy Curls that I had previously made using Tajin.
A few minutes in the broiler later, and a final topping of some store-bought guacamole (I corrected this mistake the second round), and vegan sour cream, I was nearly there. But there was just one more thing: The jalapeño “cherry” on top.
My partner, Ben, was napping at the time, and I tried to show my creation off, but he was too tired to care. What did that mean to me? Well, it meant that I got to relive my glory days, and devour the entire plate of, what I’m now calling my “Loaded Vegan 24/7 Nachos”, all by myself.
Before sharing this recipe with y’all, I wanted to make sure everything was perfect, so I made these “Loaded Vegan 24/7 Nachos” about 3 more times that same week… You’re welcome!
The Best Loaded Vegan “24/7” Nachos
The best vegan nachos you've every had, inspired my my favorite late-night snack.
- 5 ounces (about ⅓ bag) RW Garcia MixtBag Tortilla Chips
- 1 batch Creamy Cashew “Ranchero” Sauce (recipe below)
- 1 batch Grilled Chili-Lime Soy Curls (recipe Below)
- 1 cup shredded vegan Mexican cheese blend
- 1 cup black or pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
- ¼ cup vegan sour cream or plain vegan yogurt
- ¼ cup Easy Pico (recipe below – or use store bought)
- ¼ cup Easy Guacamole (recipe below – or use store bought)
- 1 cup water or broth
- 1 teaspoon vegan chicken flavored bouillon
- ⅓ cup (45-50g) raw cashew pieces
- ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon prepared enchilada sauce or favorite taco sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup dry Soy Curls
- 1 cup very hot water or broth
- 1 teaspoon vegan chicken flavored bouillon
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil
- ½ teaspoon Tajin or chili and lime seasoning
- 3 ripe roma tomatoes
- ½ cup diced white or yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
- salt to taste
- 1 medium to large ripe avocado
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Easy Pico, liquid drained
- ½ lime, juiced
To a blender, add water, bouillon, and raw cashew pieces. Blend until no bits of cashews remain. If you don’t have a high-speed, you can soak the raw cashews in cool water for a few hours (or very hot water for 10 minutes) to help them blend easier.
Add the blended cashew mixture to a small saucepan along with the nutrition yeast, chili powder, and prepared enchilada sauce. Turn the heat to medium, and stir continuously until the mixture starts to simmer and begins to thicken. Continue to cook on low until it reaches the desired thickness. Set aside until ready to use.
To a heat-safe bowl, add dry Soy Curls, very hot water (just under a boil), and bouillon. Cover, and allow to sit, covered, for about 10 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully squeeze any excess liquid out of the hydrated Soy Curls and transfer them to another dish along with 1 teaspoon of neutral oil and tajin. Toss to coat.
Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat. Add hydrated and seasoned Soy Curls. Cook until they are lightly browned, and have a nice, meaty texture. Return the cooked soy curls to the seasoning bowl, and set aside until ready to use.
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Slice each half into ¼ inch thick strips, and then cut those strips into ¼ inch cubes. Cut the onion to the same size pieces, mince the garlic, and roughly chop the cilantro.
- Add the cut veggies and cilantro to a jar or a bowl, toss with lime juice and salt to taste. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
Remove the flesh from one avocado, and mash it in a bowl with the back of a fork. Add lime juice and a pinch of salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of drained Easy Pico to the bowl, and gently stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, and adjust with more lime juice or salt.
Begin by adding half of the Creamy Cashew “Ranchero” Sauce to the bottom of an oven-safe plate or pan. Top with half the chips followed by half of the remaining “Ranchero” Sauce, half of the beans, half of the Chili-Lime Soy Curls, and ½ cup of shredded vegan cheese. Top with another layer of chips, followed by the remaining “Ranchero” sauce, beans, Soy Curls, and vegan cheese.
Place assembled nachos into the broiler or a very hot oven just until the cheese is completely melted, and the chips are just starting to take on a bit of color.
- Carefully remove the nachos from the broiler and top with drained Easy Pico, vegan sour cream, Easy Guacamole, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately!