TV show takes on local restaurant's nachos

Travel Channel's 'Man v. Food' to feature Ann Arbor's Tios

By Samantha White

Tackling colossal cuisine is the premise for one of the Travel Channel's most successful programs, "Man v. Food." Every week, the show's host, Adam Richman, treks to a different restaurant around the country to see if he's up for the challenge of eating whichever oversized food item that restaurant offers.

One of his next conquests will be right here in Michigan, as Richman takes on the "Mt. Nacheesmo" at Tios Southwestern Cafe, owned by eclectic restaurateurs Tim and Harriet Seaver, at 401 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. The episode airs Oct. 20 as the show's season finale.

"Adam said his favorite food in the world are nachos, and he wanted to do a nacho challenge and he found us," Tim says.

The massive five-pound nacho dish is not on the restaurant's official menu, but is available for those who can handle it. Tios has a wall that serves as a Hall of Fame - or a Hall of Shame - for anyone who's successfully finished the mountain of nachos, or just couldn't conquer it.

The Seavers are veterans in the restaurant business but new to television, and they were surprised at how long it took to shoot the episode. Still, they enjoyed the taping when Richman and crew visited the restaurant a couple of weeks ago. According to the Seavers, he's everything you see on TV: "He's a really nice guy - completely unpretentious and really excited."

Tim Seaver has been in the restaurant business since 1967. He began Tios in 1985 because he says all Mexican restaurants' food tasted the same and he wanted to make a restaurant that was different.

"When you taste our food, you know it's Tios," he says.

His commitment to creating a unique dining experience has also translated to the ambience of the restaurant, which exudes a comfortable, family-like feel - and, well, for good reason: Two of their children also work with them.

"Tios is our home," Harriet says. "When you own a business, you are here a lot - and we try to make it feel like home."

"Man v. Food" isn't the first time Tios Southwestern Cafe has received recognition for its food. Tim and Harriet won the "Reader's Pick" award from Current magazine six times and the Ann Arbor News' "Reader's Choice" award five years in a row.

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