I love blue corn tortilla chips. I admit, I like them better than yellow corn, at least when it comes to buying for home--perhaps because hot and greasy restaurant chips are so hard to replicate at home, and they're almost always of the yellow corn variety--so I keep the realms separate, not even trying to recreate the restaurant experience at home, and keeping blue corn chips exclusively on my kitchen counter.
The thing is, I haven't developed die-hard loyalty to a brand yet. I've flitted around, trying every blue corn chip I can find (or whichever one happens to be on sale...), so I thought for this Food Fight it was time to return to the grocery store to pit three finalists against each other and call the thing, once and for all.
I tasted the chips plain, and then whipped up some guacamole, because everyone knows that God wants us to eat blue corn chips with guacamole, and then I finished things off with some smoky salsa (store-bought, because I wasn't feeling that ambitious). This was, as I'm sure you can imagine, a Food Fight for which I sacrificed a great deal, like my desire to keep fitting into my pants. All in the name of food journalism, though!
Here are the contenders:
Central Market Organics (also available at H-E-B)
A handy standby, and the entry I had hoped would serve as a kind of baseline--simple, uncomplicated, reliable. The thing is, though, these chips don't taste very good plain. I found myself slightly disconcerted by their dusty-grey color, especially in comparison to the other two chips.
As a vehicle, these chips are acceptable--sturdy enough and crunchy. But they really lack salt, so whatever you're dipping them into should be prepared to make up for that. Like pimento cheese, let's just say for example.
Eaten plain, the corn flavor of these chips seemed thin. Then again, I don't eat tortilla chips plain very often. I think these chips would hold up fine under the weight of some badass nachos, but on their own, they won't be winning any prizes.
Garden of Eatin' (made with organic blue corn)
Thankfully, these chips were a nice, dark blue with visible grains of salt. The best way to describe them is "substantive." Thick, but not unpleasantly so. I found these, of the three varities, the easiest to eat solo. I could easily go through half a bag with no accompaniment (not that I would do that, of course).
As a dipping vehicle, the Garden of Eatin' chips win for managing to hold a nice, big scoop of guacamole. Also, given the robust flavor of the corn, the chip itself wasn't lost underneath the avocado-y goodness. My only complaint, then, is that dipping these chips into salsa results in too much chip taste and not enough salsa taste. The former overwhelmed the latter, so I went back to eating the chips solo.
Xochitl (organic, made with stone-ground blue corn)
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This boutique brand hails from Dallas, a detail that would normally turn me off to something, but I finally bought them at the recommendation of a friend whose palate I trust. And hoo boy, was THAT ever a risk with a payoff. These chips are just flat-out delicious.
Somehow those folks in Dallas have managed to package the glory of restaurant chip--aggressively salted but not overly salty, shatteringly crisp and thin with a background taste of fry oil. Sure, they're hard to dip into guacamole (I like mine chunky, and no that's not a metaphor for anything), but I don't care. They are perfect for salsa, so perfect that I may now have to make myself a margarita.
As much as it pains me to give props to Dallas, I must give credit where credit is due--Xochitl is the clear victor here. Worth the slightly boutique price, with Garden of Eatin' coming in as a slightly cheaper and healthier runner up.