Even this beleaguered staple of mall restaurants is worth doing well at home.

The Problem

Finding good nachos can be difficult. The worst combine chips that taste like cardboard with squirts of unnaturally fluid "cheese" and watery jarred salsa. If you're lucky, a miniscule portion of guacamole is served on the side.

The Goal

Good nachos should be crisp and hot, not lukewarm, soggy, or charred. Second, there must be no shortage of cheese, a chip without cheese is not a nacho. Third, there is no such thing as minimalist nachos. Good nachos require not only a hearty helping of cheese but also ample amounts of garnishes such as salsa, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños, scallions, and so on.

The Solution

To ensure that all of the chips are cheesy and spicy, layer tortilla chips with a full pound of shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalapeños. Use only the freshest ingredients to prepare quick homemade salsa and guacamole to garnish the nachos, and finish with fresh lime wedges and sour cream.