I see videos floating around pretty often on TikTok that showcase places like food trucks serving tricked-out chips (think Doritos or Cheetos) smothered in an ungodly amount of stuff. The videos typically feature someone taking a tray of normal Doritos, then gussying them up with liquid cheese and various other toppings to create a nachos monstrosity beyond your wildest dreams. Whenever I see these viral posts, I have the urge to try out such concoctions for myself, which I’m sure is the whole point.
I’ve never found a place that does anything like that, at least here in Chicago. But then something occurred to me: I’ve always had the ability to do it myself, and it was in front of me this whole time. I just have to go to 7-Eleven.
Something very important to know about 7-Eleven is that most locations have a nacho cheese and chili dispenser proudly advertised as free to use, plus a condiment bar next to the hot dog rollers. If you’re lucky and the bar is fully stocked, you’ve just hit the jackpot.
There’s a big but, unfortunately: Not all 7-Eleven locations are the same. Each location carries slightly different items, and the policies at each location can vary as well. The cashiers at the first two locations I visited gruffly told me that using the nacho cheese and chili machine on any chips besides the intended prepackaged tortilla chips would cost extra. (One store upcharged by $1, the other $1.50. Not bad, but still, not free as advertised.) Each location’s condiment bar was also disappointingly empty.
On my third location scouting attempt, I found a fully loaded condiment bar, and as I was purchasing my Flamin’ Hot Nacho Cheese Doritos, I asked the cashier if I could use these condiments for my chips. “Go right ahead!” she said.
“Do I have to pay anything?” I asked. “The other locations said I had to pay extra.”
“No, I’ll let you have it for free,” she said. “It depends on who owns them, whether it’s corporate, like this location, or if they’re privately owned.” Noted. Good thing I asked.
Before you start loading up on all the good shit, don’t forget to crunch up your chips a little. This serves two purposes: They don’t take up as much space in the bag, which then allows you to have more room for toppings, and makes each bite easier to fork.
Then, roll the sides of the bag down like you’d roll up your shirtsleeves, because chances are your bag of chips will be a little too tall for the machine. (I learned this the hard way.) Douse your Flamin’ Hot Nacho Doritos with liquid cheese and chili, then loaded that sucker up at the condiment bar.
This 7-Eleven location had a ton of stuff available: tomatoes, pico de gallo, onions, pickled jalapeños, pickled sport peppers (similar to serranos), and most of it ended up in my Doritos bag. The nachos were beautiful.
I sat on a bus stop bench, which is the best possible place to eat Flamin’ Hot Doritos nachos on a nice sunny day, and happily went to town. They were salty, spicy, covered in smooth nacho cheese and chili (both of which came straight from a bag), and the acid from the pico de gallo and pickled jalapeños cut through each bite. Just like on any respectable tray of convenience store nachos, but customized. 7-Eleven even carries little sachets of hot sauce in case you want to add even more acid and heat.
The best part is, it’s an entire meal for the price of a single bag of Doritos, plus they’re almost as wacky as the concoctions I see on TikTok. They’re also a ton of fun to assemble. So next time your wallet feels a little light and you want to eat like a champion, step into your nearest 7-Eleven and make yourself the bag of glorious, over-the-top nachos you deserve. Eat them at the bus stop too.