Chilaquiles are one of many traditional Mexican recipes that evolved to make stale tortillas tastier. If you are planning to make some, you need real corn tortillas. Not Doritos. Not Fritos. Corn tortillas are cut into strips or triangles and fried in corn oil until they take a crispy texture. But shape doesn’t really matter. You won’t get the right texture if you start with already-fried chips.
Chilaquiles are typically served with a fried egg on top, or a strip of meat alongside and refried beans on the side. They’re commonly garnished with cream (not sour cream) shredded queso fresco (similar to farmers or ricotta cheese), raw onion rings, sometimes a fresh slice of avocado, and covered with a green or red sauce (not pico de gallo) made of fresh tomatoes. Usually, chilaquiles are eaten at breakfast or lunch. They are also served as the last meal at a long (epic) wedding party close to morning. Moreover, chilaquiles are often lauded as a cure for la cruda–the common hangover.
Here are some of the best places in Mexico City for heartier (and reassuring) Chilaquiles. The pronunciation is /tchil-lah-kay-less/.
Ojo de Agua
Eating healthy, and delicious is the philosophy of this small market-lunchroom. The market offers lots of organic products: fruits, seeds, honey, coffee and chocolate. Everything they serve is scrumptious, and especially the Chilaquiles, poured with your choice of homemade, organic sauce, and fresh queso (no preservatives added).
They also offer an assorted selection of natural juices, shakes and smoothies to revitalize, des-intoxicate or get rid of that cold. The atmosphere is young spirited and unpretentious and designed to show off recycled objects: lamps made from glass bottles, crates with fresh fruits; and at the center there’s a long table allowing diners to interact, and as at lots of Condesa restaurants, it’s pet friendly, too.
Citlaltépetl 23-C, col. Hipódromo Condesa
Telephone: 63 95 8000
El Péndulo is an amazing chain of bookshops in Mexico City. The one in Condesa has a lovely first floor where you can eat or drink while reading a book by the natural light from the windows. Famous for its book and cds selection, as well as for original cards, toys, games and memorabilia (for sale at the entrance), El Péndulo is known for serving some of the city’s best chilaquiles. Not too spicy, with perfect corn tortillas, they’ll come topped with your choice of green or red salsa, abundant queso fresco and cream. The El Péndulo bookstore in Mexico City is regularly included in lists of the world’s best bookstores.
Address Nuevo León 115, Colonia Condesa
Telephone: 52 86 94 93
This “ventanita” is literally a tiny window where orders are taken and food is fantastic. Seating is only outside and the place is designed to lessen the rush of Mexico City. In front of Cibeles Fountain, la Ventanita is nestled between walls of plants and greenery.
The menu is simple and delicious. They roast their own Chiapas coffee and serve excellent chilaquiles with homemade green sauce and a fried egg on top. An excellent choice for near-street level chilaquiles.
Address: Plaza Villa Madrid 13, col. Roma Norte
Phone: 55 33 64 40
La esquina del chilaquil
Tortas come in different varieties, but when La Esquina del Chilaquil (the corner of the chilaquil) decided to sell tortas at the corner of Alfonso Reyes and Tamaulipas in colonia Condesa, they never expected to see lines of people waiting to eat this delicious Mexican specialty. But that’s what happened. It’s a meal in itself. Try the torta filled with Chilaquiles, deep-friend chicken breast, refried beans, and cream and queso fresco. Preparation alone provides quite a spectacle. There’s always a queue but it’s definitely worth the wait. Opens 363 days a year, excluding Dec. 25th and Jan. 1st.
Address: Alfonso Reyes 145, Hipódromo, Condesa
“Shabby-chic” at its heart, La Lorena is decorated in white and blue, has an eclectic menu where their homemade scones are the stars of the menu. However, the Michellin Star was won by the Chilaquiles, served – a la nouveau cuisine – prepared with crispy fine tortilla strips topped with a an organic homemade fresh sauce. “The only possible magic is the friendliness that comes from the heart”.
Address: Monte Libano No. 265, Lomas de Chapultepec.
Telephone: 52 02 45 94
The main idea of this restaurant was to create an authentic “lonchería” and give to Condesa an eatery where people can feel they are a part of the ‘barrio’. Chilaquiles here are scrumptious, and so abundant you’ll need to walk them off. Served with lots of queso fresco and cream, you can order them with Arrachera (a cut of juicy beef), eggs (scrambled or fried), or try los Divorciados split with green and red tomato sauce.
Chilaquiles and all dishes are served in peltre, enamel-ware previously reserved for Mexican lower classes.
Address: Saltillo 73, col. Hipódromo Condesa
Phone: 52 11 61 78
Located at the foot of the famous Ermita building, this restaurant opened two years ago. Great Mexican kitsch design, a wide variety of chilaquiles and sauces, from mild to super spicy (try the sauces before ordering), huge portions, low prices ($100 MXP per person), and friendly service, make of Chilakillers the place, par excellence, where you can enjoy this typical Mexican dish. Whether you order them with beef, Arrachera meat, eggs, nopal (cactus), or rib beefsteak, you are in for a delicious typical Mexican dish. The sauces – green, red, bean, chipotle, mole or super spicy- are the best. For carbohydrate lovers, nothing like a tortas of chilaquiles (you know, the typical Mexican crispy on the outside, soft on the inside bread, a variation of the baguette), while protein lovers can order an omelet stuffed with chilaquiles. No, it’s not a requisite to have a hangover to enjoy this restaurant. After a night of excesses it sure tastes good to accompany your chilaquiles with an ice-cold beer. Cheers!
Address: Avenida Revolución 23, col. Tacubaya
2016 was a banner year, not just for good eats and good coffee, but for seeing some of our old favorites really come into their own. Hopefully not lost in all of the rave reviews were these ten top-notch new restaurants – perhaps the best New Restaurants of the past year. As we see it, these are the ones who are just getting going.
Photo above: Mia Domenicca
A Mediterranean corner in Colonia Roma, Mia Domenicca always feels like cooking for friends. Priding themselves on a kitchen that turns out truly memorable dishes, the place is casual and friendly, but the menu should leave no doubt that you’ve got some pretty sophisticated friends.
Taking the concept of “comfort food” to some considerable extreme, La Roma is not just good for the soul. With considerable attitude, it’s not really a biker kind of place (though it looks like it). Specializing in burgers, plenty of their sandwiches will meet the expectations of higher-browed clientele, and deeply satisfying, some of their heavier dishes will beg to be revisited.
Chef Jair Téllez’s next evolutionary step after winning acclaim for Merotoro and Laja (in the Valley of Guadalupe), Amaya’s menu is still more sophisticated. A fusion of Spanish and Mexican cuisine, the wine (raro or not) is also carefully selected for outstanding results.
The new place at the Four Seasons, Zenaya is seafood to write home about. Starting with traditional recipes from Nayarit, Chef Tonatiuh Cuevas traveled to the coast to soak up the seasoning of the beach. Quality and freshness have been well noted by some of the city’s most vocal citics.
Mexico City’s most beloved Japanese chef brings a much-needed update to the concept of Mexican-Japanese food. With an extremely traditional menu, you get the hyper-simple technique and the full blown Hiroshi treatment for every dish. This is not one to miss.
A pure vegetable-based cuisine for everyone, every dish is created with organic and artisanal ingredients. Soups, salads, and hamburgers all attest to the fact that vegan can be not just edible, but even really good, and without mammoth portions.
Innovative, high-quality dishes, in an unpretentious environment, Lucas focuses on seasonal everything, and so everything is fresh. With a nice mix of cocktails, for Roma Norte this is a decidedly sophisticated corner of the night.
Bastardo, like the child of none-too-respectable parents, is nothing if not creative. Chef Jorge Avedaño latest venture brings always unusual ingredients to the table and the results are something like a mix of down-home and high society. Among the best new restaurants, this is not one to underestimate.
Granada’s not just a bunch of overpriced condos for girls from Toluca. The second Granada entry in this year’s list, is a fusion of Mediterranean, Asian, American and Spanish food all from Valencian chef Ricard Camarena. Eclectic is a ood first word to describe it, but the flavors and technique somehow all make sense here – if nowhere else.
For daily delights inspired by a traditional bakery, you shouldn’t have to climb Mount Everest. But that’s where you’ll find this new and rather exclusive bakery and coffee shop with a pretty good menu tacked on to keep it innovative. Contemporary Mexican food comes in ample servings to make it one of the best new restaurants of the past year. And the terrace, for lunch is one reward for venturing out to Lomas.
Mole, the word comes from the Nahuatl, molli, is always among the most emblematic of Mexican dishes. There are multiple varieties of moles, each prepared with different chiles and spices. This mixture is then thickened with corn, vegetables and sometimes with a meat stock. And then it’s set to stew.
The interesting thing about mole is that over the decades it’s continued to evolve. More and more chefs and restaurants strive to include a mole on their menus, with original dishes inspired by nothing but that original dark sauce. Dishes today range from the most traditional to the most modern and extravagent. And they always bear something of the original identity in their complex characters and flavors.
Among the most popular is “mole poblano.” But as there are so many versions of moles in the city, the best moles in Mexico City are often far and away from those concocted originally in Puebla, or Oaxaca or Guerrero. From the pot, they come red, black or sometimes green, but for all the best moles in Mexico City start with the list below.
One of the city’s true classics, Azul is at home in an impressive old building and prides itself on a rather high Mexican gastronomy. The house mole is rather on the traditional side, but for the adventurous, there’s also a sweet version served with duck.
With very fair prices, La Poblanita’s portions are very generous, and the mole enchiladas, are not to be forgotten. Overall, a traditional and rather “poblano” style menu should fill up even the most finicky of guests.
A favorite since the 1940s, Los Panchos has been recommended by world-renowned chef, Enrique Olvera. One of the city’s most varied menus, the house mole is one of the star dishes, and always comes out not just sweet, but exotic, multi-layered and complicated.
Always esoteric, El Cardenal has been one of the best Centro restaurants for as long as anyone can remember. Most famous for the breakfasts, at lunchtime all the niceties go away and the real guns come out. A chicken breast stuffed goat cheese ought to get you going but the red mole is easily among the best moles in Mexico City.
Easily one of the most recognized eateries in the city, Pujol usually makes lists of the best in all Latin America. Cuisine is distinctly Mexican while the atmosphere is sophisticated and minimalist. Among the most popular of dishes is the “mole madre/mole nuevo,” made through a fusion of ancestral and modern techniques.
Priding itself on traditional and contemporary Poblano recipes, many of the moles are from carefully secreted recipes, each with a unique flavor. Order the chilaquiles with mole or the guava mole, both of which are exceptional.
El Familiar – Milpa Alta
San Pedro Actopan may be practically the world capital of mole and the majority of inhabitants dedicate themselves in one or another to the production of the sauce. El Familiar offers one particular mole with walnuts (mole de nuez), which goes spectacularly with almost anything. But the three-mole enchiladas offer an amazing sampler for those unwilling to commit.