FACT: Rainforests are forests characterized by the heavy amount of rainfall they receive annually, at least 66 inches. FACT: Rainforests can be either Tropical or Temperate. FACT: Tropical rainforests contain around two thirds of the planet’s biodiversity. FACT: There exists a chain of themed restaurants whose whole schtick is that they are designed to be a tropical rainforest full of animatronic forest beasts to astound and amaze. FACT: They sell a dish known as BEEF LAVA NACHOS, because if there is anything more synonymous with rainforests than “beef lava”, I don’t know what it might be.
I arrived at the restaurant during the middle of the “rainy season” or maybe it was a “monsoon”. I’m no meteorologist and didn’t receive a cell phone warning about incoming storms, but the whole place was dark and thundering as it simulated a rainstorm, minus the rain of course. I’m sure a young child or someone who hasn’t had all the whimsey removed from their soul and replaced by coal and spiders would have found this awesome, but all I wanted were nachos and for the jungle guide hostess to navigate me through this storm to a table. A kindly waitress dressed in safari explorer attire (sans pith helmet unfortunately) soon took my order and I sat back to watch an animatronic butterfly noisily move its wings as fast as its machinery would allow. All in all, it was just like being in an actual rainforest.
Having seen several of their patented Volcano Brownies pass by, sparklers shooting fire out of the top while the waitstaff would shout “VOLCANO!”, I had hoped that something along those lines would be presented before me, but not the case. [ASIDE: The “Volcano Brownie” might also be called a “Sparkling Volcano”, however the Rainforest Cafe website doesn’t list half the menu for some reason, including the part with drinks and desserts. So if it’s called something completely different don’t spend your time getting on me about it, go and tell Rainforest Cafe incorporated to have an accurate website. END ASIDE] What showed up on my table was just some regular old nachos, no sparklers, no molten beef lava flows, not even chips piled in a volcano shaped mound. Where was the style and artistry that was on display with the rest of the restaurant? Where was the magic? Does the Rainforest Cafe even care about nachos?
So no volcano shape, no sparklers, no PIZZAZZ, but otherwise how were they? Well, they were like a sleazy old sea captain, salty and greasy. If I was hungover these would have been perfect, but I was instead sober as a judge, and not in the mood spend $50+ on the three or four goofy tropical drinks I’d need to get wasted. [ANOTHER ASIDE: Man, I sure wish I could look up the names of some of the pun based beverages they served, but nope, they’re not on the website either! Why even list a menu if you’re not going to show half of your food on it! END ANOTHER ASIDE] “Serviceable” is about the best rating I can give these flavorwise, and we haven’t even gotten to their main issue: chip bits.
I don’t know if it’s a bug or a feature of the BEEF LAVA NACHOS, but my plate was mostly tiny shards of chip rather than a nice whole chip that you could actually use to scoop something up in a nacho fashion. If the “lava” of it’s namesake happened to be a cheesey salsa mix that you would have to scoop up afterwards with a fork, The Leavings if you will, that would be one thing. However, the “lava” might actually be the volume of greasy liquefied beef that congealed into a viscous pool at the bottom of my plate while I ate the rest of the meal and gave the dish an overall shine. It’s not the greasiest nachos I’ve eaten, but if I had a pelt it would have quite the shine after consuming this.
I’ve eaten a lot of nachos in a lot of places and have never heard a combination of words more unsettling than “BEEF LAVA”. If these were delicious that might add to their charm, but these weren’t very good. Maybe if you have a horde of shrieking children who will only be satisfied seeing some animatronic tiger's roaring and the kind of disposable income where you can spend $17 on a brownie Rainforest Cafe is the place for you. If you’re only eating there ironically, don’t. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville makes a Volcano Nacho that is actually in the shape of a volcano and much better tasting, and probably if you’re somewhere with a Rainforest Cafe there is a Margaritaville right across the street. Hell, even Jurassic World had a Margaritaville, and I guarantee it was there because of their nachos.