Sunday, September 29, 2013

The *New* State of Chilaquiles in Austin, Texas.

65 plates of chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
(FGHD editor's note: Updated February 2015 for AFBA City Guide)

As a lot of you know, we've been on a epic, epicurean quest – a grand gustatory gamble with breaking the fast deep in the heart of Texas.

We've been scouring Austin for the very best chilaquiles it has to offer. We've torn apart the town, top to bottom, for more than a year sampling both highbrow and humble versions of this traditional Mexican dish. 

There are no shortage of restaurants offering up their take on what shouldn't really be more than crisp fresh-fried tortilla chips (totopos) simmered with a red or green sauce until just slightly softened, crowned with a pair of properly-cooked eggs. With such a simple preparation, you'd think it would be difficult to screw up this classic.

We weren't looking for haute cuisine a la Mexicana, we just wanted an honest, reliable, simple Sunday morning comfort-food breakfast at a joint where everyone might eventually know us (and our broken Spanish).

There were standouts, certainly, but just as often there were store-bought chips, soggy and swimming in sub-par sauces, eggs that were under-cooked, over-cooked or not even offered as an option. There were some surprises, and there were some disappointments. 

There were also some stunningly brilliant breakfasts. 

If a restaurant presented only one sauce option for chilaquiles, Julie and I would typically order the same dish. If a restaurant had both verdes (green) and rojos (red), we'd order one of each. The majority of the time, we'd order eggs over-easy. If we knew the eggs were going to be happy eggs (see $9 chilaquiles), I'd go for sunny-side-up. Beans, potatoes and accoutrements (if available) were taken into consideration, as was the coffee or aguas frescas. The overall experience was key, but really, it all came down to the chilaquiles. 

We've done our due diligence, and now, we humbly present to you ten establishments that Julie and I both agreed have the finest chilaquiles in Austin. These are our favorites, the places we return to time and time again. 

These chilaquiles are the best of the best

Señor Buddy's  8600 Highway 290, Austin, TX 78736  (512) 288-0437
Señor Buddy's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Who knew we'd find the holy grail of chilaquiles in the back of a gas station off Highway 290? This Curra's Grill (see also below) outpost was one of the first stops on this crazy quest, and they set the bar high with an impossibly-fresh plate – made before your very ojos and handed to you across the counter of the open kitchen moments after the onion and cilantro garnish hit the hot huevos. The sauce is a delicious mixture of verde and chipotle, the tortillas are cut and fried the instant you place your order, and the beans are a minor morning miracle with just a dusting of queso fresco. (Ryan)

Notice that there are no potatoes? And the absence of sour cream? You know you've got a winner when they're so good you don't even miss those little extras. Perfect every single time. (Julie)

La Casita  1519 West Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757  (512) 469-0105
La Casita chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
There is a fine line between overcooked and undercooked potatoes when it comes to accompaniments. At most places where potatoes are included they'll arrive slightly dry and overcooked, or occasionally slightly undercooked and equally under-seasoned. These are perfectly tender potatoes that don't just hang out on the plate to look pretty, they actually act as a wonderful flavor ballast to the spicy richness of the chilaquiles and over-easy egg. There's something rather divine about these simple potato slices when you drag them through the sour cream and a bit of frijoles. Their rojos version is a little chile-based enchilada sauce-like, but thoroughly satisfying on a chilly Sunday morning. The verdes version is simply dreamy. Bonus points for serving good fresh coffee and offering, should your morning require it, real half-and-half instead of non-dairy creamer. (Julie)

If you were to judge the well-worn strip mall on Anderson Lane that houses La Casita by appearances only, you'd keep driving. The corner unit hides a vibrant decor, a friendly waitstaff and a tiny kitchen putting out perfectly-executed chilaquiles, both rojos y verdes. We visit often. (Ryan)

Paco's Tacos  1304 East 51st Street, Austin, TX 78723  (512) 323-6206
Paco's Tacos chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

I got caught stepping out on Julie with this one. Actually, I didn't really get caught so much as I just felt guilty for sneaking away on a weekday while she was at work and trying Paco's Tacos offering of chilaquiles by myself. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect and figured I'd be taking one for the team. Turns out, the chilaquiles with ranchero sauce were absolutely delicious, and I had to fess up and bring Julie back for breakfast that weekend. (Ryan)

This is one sweet little plate of chilaquiles. The sauce tastes to be a mix of a some kind of rojo and verde – rather along the lines of Señor Buddy's – but it has a spicy personality all its own. The portion is of delightfully-reasonable size with a single egg and no fuss. To make for a particularly well-rounded morning experience, the service is charming and the coffee hits the spot. (Julie)

El Alma Cafe  1025 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 609-8923
El Alma Cafe chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
This was our third or fourth foray into "fancy" chilaquiles. Fancy chilaquiles are usually the Sunday brunch ones that have the perfectly imperfect squiggle of crema on top, some beautiful avocado, happy eggs from happy chickens, and a nine-to-twelve-dollar price tag. More often than not, fancy chilaquiles are a disappointment. Not so at El Alma. The totopos were handmade, thick, and sauced with a salsa verde so fresh you could taste each individual ingredient playing on your tongue. There was wonderful coffee and the most attentive waitstaff of any of the restaurants we visited. (Ryan)

This is one of the few places we've seen refried black beans, and my compliments to the chef for this singular choice with the tangy fresh verde. I think it works brilliantly together with the richness of the eggs, runny and cooked to perfection. I appreciate, as well, that these aren't chilaquiles re-imagined, they are quite recognizable and straightforward in spite of the change-up of bean variety. Overall, it was a well-balanced, well-seasoned plate proving that lovely and unique does not necessitate abdicating essential chilaquiles-ness. And the coffee..? Oh, my. When we're out for chilaquiles, I'm just happy if I can get black coffee that is palatable and wakes me up. This? This was like waking up to angels singing. More than worth the price of admission. (Julie)

Taqueria La Chapala  4201 South Congress Avenue #4, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 326-9090
Taqueria La Chapala chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Until we walked into this little South Austin taqueria, I was absolutely convinced that I did not and would not like any chilaquiles with melty cheese. A touch of crumbly queso fresco is always a delight, but every other time I've had them with melty cheese, it has been problematic. It's either an excessive gloppy mess that overwhelms the chips and sauce, or the cheese cools at a faster pace and leaves you with rubbery lumps to push around your plate. But, by some wizardry, here it works every time. The green sauce – my favorite – has a bright citrus tang and is mild (not spicy). The red is also mild and distinctly 'ranchero' in flavor, but very fresh tasting. The touch of sour cream is a value-added compliment, as is the fact that you can enjoy the coffee black. For consistently outstanding chilaquiles with melted cheese, these earn high honors. (Julie)

El Naranjo  85 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701  (512) 474-2776
El Naranjo chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
This was a giant serving of chilaquiles. No sides, no beans or potatoes, not a chilaquiles plate, per se. The verde sauce was bright and alive, with a really nice heat to it. The alternate guajillo was more mild and subtle, but left a slow, warm feeling on the tongue. I would have liked some beans as a foil to the salsa, but these chilaquiles were leaps and bounds above the norm. Next time we'll request chilaquiles divorciados with a pair of over-easy eggs, a side of beans, and split it. (Ryan)

El Torito  6616 South Congress, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 462-6010
El Torito chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The chilaquiles verdes, served with pinto beans, are right at the top of my list of favorites in Austin. In Italian, the perfect doneness of pasta is "al dente." I don't know if there's a word in Spanish for totopos quickly and gently simmered in sauce until they are at the knife-edge-thin line between completely-crispy and slightly-sodden, but there should be. They need to have just the right tooth. The homemade totopos in El Torito's chilaquiles dance on that razor's edge, every time we visit, and the verdes version is supremely fresh, bright and tangy.

The chilaquiles rojos, served with black beans, have a flavor profile to the salsa that seems to have been in subtle flux the last few visits – alternating between understated and mild, to nicely fiery, to having a little smoky chipotle bite. Regardless, they are still a top-tier red any day of the week. Both red and green versions are given a dusting of white cheese before being crowned by a pair of eggs. Crema is on the side.

The delicious cafe de olla has a bit of piloncillo in it, and the sandia agua fresca (when available) is a morning miracle. (Ryan)

Veracruz All Natural #1  1704 E Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78702  (512) 981-1760
Veracruz All Natural chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
(Note: Veracruz All Natural is no longer serving chilaquiles or Sunday brunch menu until their brick-and-mortar restaurant opens... sadness, I know, but stay tuned.)

Just when I thought Julie and I had closed the book on chilaquiles in Austin, Reyna Vasquez – owner of Veracruz All Natural – dropped a first-class, stunningly-good breakfast beso on us.

We had already tried a few times to get ahold of these rarified chilaquiles. The first Sunday we stopped by, the trailer was closed for repairs. I called the following week to find that the special brunch menu was served only on the first Sunday of each month – essentially making these the most elusive of all chilaquiles in Austin, offered only 12 times a year.

I had a feeling they were going to be pretty good, but I had no idea just how good. At one point, Julie took a perfectly-proportioned bite and simply started laughing. She had no words, only a giddy roll of the eyes and a slight swoon. My reaction was incredulous silence, stunned disbelief, and an immediate clearing of my calendar for all following first Sundays of the month.

Both rojos y verdes are offered, plated (yes, actual plates out of a trailer) with your choice of charro, black, or refried black beans, and fried plantains. The chilaquiles verdes were as ideal as they get – fresh totopos with perfect tooth under a sauce so natural, bright and right, with just the slightest heat. Under the over-easy eggs were a few slivers of raw white onion and a dusting of hard-grated cheese. The red version was more mild and subtle, a little delicate, but refined and ridicously-satisfying. There were none of the overly-heavy, thickly-spiced, tomato-chile flavors we'd seen on so many plates of chilaquiles rojos before. Refried black beans (flawlessly seasoned) and sweet, crispy-edged, creamy-interior fried plantains finished the plate. 

Texas Coffee Roasters provided the café and the sandia agua fresca was amazing. (Ryan)

Taqueria La Escondida #2  10900 Highway 290, Austin, TX 78737  (512) 288-1450
Taqueria La Escondida #2 chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
When the only thing that differentiates between the names of two restaurants is a numeral, you’d figure you’re safe betting that the menus and preparations of those menus is fairly similar. Not so. After a blasé chilaquiles breakfast at Taqueria La Escondida #3 on Ben White, we were hesitant to try Taqueria La Escondida #2's version out on highway 290. I will admit, that hesitation was a foolhardy mistake. Both red and green chilaquiles at #2 are an entirely different beast, fiery and with formidable tooth. There are perfect potatoes instead of flavorless rice, and the coffee is actually drinkable. We’ve revisited a number of times, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and their consistency has been spot on.

Tucked into the backside of a gas station, it’s easy to miss La Escondida #2. Don’t. (Ryan)

Kerbey Lane Cafe (various locations)  4301 West William Cannon, Austin, TX 78737  (512) 899-1500
Kerbey Lane Cafe chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
We'd been told several times that Kerbey Lane Cafe served a great plate of chilaquiles, but every (wrong) time we'd visit and ask for them, we were denied. For some reason, they are a seasonal menu item, and we just weren't making it there in the right quarter. We could, of course, have migas but we do not eat migas. I was wary, as I am of any restaurant whose website says they have an "expresso machine," because Kerbey Lane is known for 24-hour-a-day comfort food, a half-dozen varieties of pancakes, and their cowboy queso, not for authentic Mexican breakfast.

When chilaquiles showed up again on Kerbey Lane's menu, we got texts and tweets from friends and fellow chilaquiles fiends telling us it was finally time for a go at breakfast. What we got was a chilaquiles plate with the simple preparation that we love – properly verde-sauced and simmered totopos, topped with a toss of white onion and cilantro, a pair of perfect over-easy eggs and a dollop of crema. No goopy cheese, no snazzy drizzles or garish garnish, just all the right flavors in exactly the right quantities. For an Austin institution and kitchen that pumps out such a wide variety of dishes, it's nice to see that they didn't overthink this one and fancy it up, or turn it into one more bad plate of migas. Kerbey Lane's chilaquiles deserve a spot in their regular breakfast rotation. (Ryan)

The 55 runners-up – in alphabetical order – are as follows:

Alfredo's Mexican Food  800 Pecan Street West, Pflugerville, TX 78660  (512) 990-8026
Alfredo's Mexican Food chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

Alfredo's does a very good fresh verdes with some heat. The red had a little more depth with chipotle, but was not as spicy. Small, but crisp totopos. The beans and potatoes were nicely-mild, but the sunny-side-up eggs were undercooked. Maybe over-easy next time. (Ryan)

From our location in South Austin, a drive up to Pflugerville for breakfast constitutes something of a commitment. While Alfredo's doesn't break our top ten, we left feeling it was worth the drive for their satisfying offering. (Julie) 

Azul Tequila  4211 South Lamar Blvd, A2, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 416-9667
Azul Tequila chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Solid chilaquiles, worth revisiting since they're close to us. Normally served with chicken, not eggs. We were a little baffled when we asked to substitute over-easy eggs for the chicken, and were charged an additional $3 per plate. A well-balanced breakfast. (Ryan)

I quite enjoyed this dish. Our standard order is always with over-easy eggs, but "eggs instead of chicken" put what we think of as a pretty typical plate into the fancy-drizzle chilaquiles price point ($9+). Give them a try, though, if you're in the South Austin area. (Julie)  

Casa Arandinas Mexican Bar and Grill  9001 Brodie Lane, Austin, TX 78748  (512) 292-1822
Casa Arandinas chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
This was a decent, well-prepared plate of chilaquiles verdes, but not worth the $11 price tag. If I'm going to spend that much on a plate of fried tortilla scraps in sauce with a couple of eggs, it better be El Naranjo good, and this didn't even come close. (Ryan)

Casa Garcias  1901 West William Cannon Drive, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 441-9504
Casa Garcias chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Offered with either red, green or guajillo sauces, Casa Garcias chilaquiles were rustic and pretty, filling, but only average. On our second visit, it took several requests to get our eggs once the chilaquiles plate had already been delivered sin huevos(Ryan)

I was so hopeful for this place, too, since it's near our South Austin neighborhood. We didn't try the guajillo sauce, but it was the least recommended when we asked. Sadly, there was nothing outstanding about either the green or the red. (Julie)

Changos Taqueria  3023 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX 78705  (512) 480-8226
Changos Taqueria chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

Changos offers a spicy verde sauce over a large plate of thick and very crispy chips, but it was missing some much-needed sour cream or crema to balance out the strong flavors of the sauce. (Ryan)

This is a potent plate with substantial totopos, which is far better than soggy flacid ones. I liked these and would eat them again – especially if I was looking for a kick of heat – but would definitely suggest sharing the plate and ordering sides of refried beans and sour cream.  (Julie)

Curra's Grill  614 East Oltorf Street, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 444-0012
Curra's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
I would argue that Curra's already has and deserves (see Señor Buddy's, top 10 chilaquiles) an adjunct top bill slot. If you are new to chilaquiles, these will provide a high-level baseline for further exploration. Delicious! (Julie)

Curra's, in theory, should share the same top billing on our list that Señor Buddy's occupies. But it doesn't for me, because even though it's the exact same dish, it's never quite as good. (Ryan)

Don Dario's  8801 S I35, Suite D, Austin, TX 78748  (512) 280-1139
Don Dario's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Offered with red sauce, pico de gallo, "light" egg and massive amounts of cheese, we weren't sure what to expect. The waitress was confused by our request for over-easy eggs and wasn't sure they could substitute the scrambled eggs that were mixed in with the sauced totopos, so we kind of gave up and just ordered as-is. Don Dario's chilaquiles are more akin to one of the nine varieties of migas they offer than anything we'd return for. (Ryan)

What Ryan said. (Julie) 

Don Juan  2506 East Ben White Blvd., Austin, TX 78741  (512) 326-2225
Don Juan chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The chilaquiles at Don Juan were a serviceable, filling breakfast, but I have a feeling most people go for the morning breakfast taco deals and the drive-thru. The coffee was no bueno, but the table service was as good as it gets. Super friendly. (Ryan)

Don Mario Mexican Restaurant  1700 Ranch Road 620 N, Suite 110, Lakeway, TX 78734  (512) 266-3319
Don Mario chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
If Don Mario Mexican Restaurant were a little closer than Lakeway, we would visit more often. The chilaquiles verdes are a nice, spicy rendition, served with proper refritos, nicely-cooked eggs and potatoes. The coffee is fair-to-middlin', and the service is good. Recommended. (Ryan)

El Arroyo (Far West)  7032 Wood Hollow Drive, Austin, TX 78731  (512) 345-8226
El Arroyo (Far West) chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

Occasionally we come across a plate where the sauce is thin to the point that either the chips get soggy or it just feels like you're eating a plate of flavored tortilla chips. The sauce should be substantial enough to be seen and experienced independently, to some degree, and as the chips soften there should remain fried tortillas with a bit of crunch to them. The sauce here had a good flavor, but it lacked substance and the plate was poorly executed, especially for the price. (Julie)

Long, thin tortilla strips (similar to Maudie's) simmered in a thin, tangy salsa. The eggs were overcooked, the dish was overpriced and the waitstaff was inattentive. If only they served chilaquiles at The Ditch downtown... (sigh). (Ryan)

El Borrego de Oro  3900 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 383-0031
El Borrego de Oro chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
I don't know how we slept on this one as long as we did. It's South Austin, it's authentic, it's a little divey but not too divey, and the chilaquiles are wonderful. The deep, rich red and vibrant green sauces are innocuous enough at first, but there's a slow, building heat that creeps up into your sinuses and back down your throat, reminding you that this is not migas and Mexican martinis. The cheese is melty, not crumbly, but it's not heavy-handed enough to make for a stringy mess from plate to mouth. There's just enough porkiness to the beans, and the crema and onion sidekicks do exactly what they're supposed to do – add complimentary texture and flavor to a great plate of chilaquiles. We will be back. (Ryan)

El Chile  1809 Manor Road, Austin, TX 78722  (512) 457-9900
El Chile chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Strangely sweet sauces for both the ranchero and green options. It was by all other measures a perfectly-presented plate – over-easy eggs and all – it just wasn't singing our song. (Julie)

El Faro  1779 Wells Branch Parkway, Austin, TX 78728  (512) 252-3430
El Faro chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

The chilaquiles verdes at El Faro was highly tomatillo-based, tangy, but with very little heat at all. The red version was enchilada-sauce-style, and also very mild. The totopos were perfect, as were the eggs, but everything was drowned in a little too much goopy cheese, crema, onion and cilantro. The owners were incredibly nice, gracious and helpful. (Ryan)

I really had high high hopes for this sweet little place filled with a plethora of lighthouse art and decor. They seem to have a popular buffet thing going on, but the chilaquiles were just a little too much of a good thing. I think this is the first one we've seen served with seasoned rice, and the refried beans were heavily seasoned with cumin. If felt a more like dinner than breakfast. (Julie) 

El Nuevo Mexico  911 W Anderson Lane #120, Austin, TX 78757  (512) 458-5454
El Nuevo Mexico chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The only thing I recall about El Nuevo Mexico's chilaquiles plate is that it was a cold, winter morning and the beans were very porky. Which means the chilaquiles were forgettable. (Ryan)

El Rincon  200 East Pecan Street, Pflugerville, TX 78660  (512) 990-0250
El Rincon chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
El Rincon puts out a good, middle-of-the-road chilaquiles plate with nicely-cooked eggs. The red was deeply-flavored and rich like Las Cazuelas and the green was fresh and piquant. The beans were delicious. (Ryan)

The green sauce here had a more definable tomatillo character than most, and was quite good. For some reason the dish got soggy quickly. Real sour cream is available, but is brought to the table in small tubular squeezy packets. (Julie)

El Sol y La Luna  600 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701  (512) 444-7770
El Sol y La Luna chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
El Sol y La Luna serves breakfast all day, and their verdes was very fresh and piquant. There was a little too much melty cheese for my taste, but the overall dish had a perfect portion size with nice ratio of sauce to chips. The table salsa reminded me of Eugene, Oregon's Emerald Valley Salsa, which I wasn't expecting. (Ryan)

If chilaquiles are what you must have for breakfast, these will serve you well. But the perfect simplicity of their Plantain Breakfast with over easy-eggs are such a treat that temptation wins for even this die-hard chilaquiles-lover. (Julie)

El Taquito  1713 East Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741  (512) 851-8226
El Taquito chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Tiny square totopos, tiny square potatoes, and whole corn tortillas underneath the eggs. I wasn't quite sure what to make of El Taquito's plate, but the chilaquiles rojos were full of flavor, while the green needed a little supplement of heat from the impressively well-appointed salsa bar. Both beans and potatoes were forgettable. (Ryan)

Light and bright with a big open kitchen and large TV screens in the dining area, I got the feeling that while offering a nice variety of breakfast fare this place was generally more focused on the late-night life. (Julie)

Garrido's  (CLOSED)
Garrido's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
I like fruit, but this plate could neither be judged on the fruit or the optional bacon. Unfortunately, this one was lacking balance in the chilaquiles department. The ratio of totopos to sauce was way off, as if they were just dressed with a little bit of sauce instead of given a quick simmer. (Julie)

The bacon was the best thing about these almost-flavorless chilaquiles. Sorry, Garrido's. (Ryan)

Guero's Taco Bar  1412 South Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704  (512) 447-7688
A very saucy, tasty green with a slightly weird application of sour cream. A decent rendition, but not enough to keep us coming back for more.  (Ryan)

Guero's does a lot of things right, and these are chilaquiles, but not destination chilaquiles. (Julie)

Hecho En Mexico   6001 West William Cannon Drive, Austin, TX 78749  (512) 301-0060
Hecho En Mexico chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Perfectly-cooked eggs, but fussing up what looked and tasted like "out of the bag" tortilla chips was simply unforgivable at this snazzy-drizzle price point. (Julie)

I really wanted to like these chilaquiles, but they were a little too precious, a little too fancified, and that unfortunately didn't add up to a delicious dish that tasted like it was "made in Mexico." Attentive service and good coffee. (Ryan)

Janitzio  600 West Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin, TX, 78712  (512) 322-0040
Janitzio chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Janitzio was a last-minute dark horse, and although they had horrible coffee, they put together a chilaquiles verdes plate that was near-perfect. The nicely-simmered chips and fiery green salsa, the rich refritos and tender potatoes, the tablespoon of diced white onion and dollop of sour cream fit together flawlessly. If one element had been missing or just average, I don't think Janitzio would have made the cut for me. But it did, and I'll eat those chilaquiles again and again. I just won't drink the coffee. (Ryan)

Jardin Corona  13233 Pond Springs Road #301, Austin, TX 78729  (512) 250-1061
Jardin Corona chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

The chilaquiles at Jardin Corona are described as having a "special" sauce that was a combination of red and green we've seen before, with more heat than actual flavor. Tasty, but very one-note. Nicely-cooked eggs, the beans had great flavor, but the potatoes were forgettable. (Ryan)

Jefes Mexican Restaurant  6300 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78752  (512) 459-0034
Jefes Mexican Restaurant chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Jefes is closed on Sundays, so it took us a while to make our way up north to try out their breakfast. Looking at the menu, there are no chilaquiles to be found, but I'd heard someone describe the dish as being served with lettuce on top, so I knew I probably just had to ask. Sure enough, the proprietor nodded and brought us a pair of chilaquiles verdes plates that were well worth the drive. The green sauce was tangy and fresh – with a faint hint of sweet that tasted like lemon – and paired well with thick totopos crisp on the outside and chewy toward the centers. The lettuce, which I'd never seen before on chilaquiles, added a nice texture and cool foil to the bright, hot-sauced chips. Excellent beans and potatoes, and everything in the well-appointed salsa bar was fresh and well-made. These are now one of my favorite "north-end" chilaquiles. (Ryan)

La Catrina  (CLOSED) 
La Catrina chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
If La Catrina were closer to us, I'd eat their chilaquiles all the time. Pflugerville's a bit of a drive, but this was worth it. The verdes was well-sauced with a spicy, bright salsa that was obviously very fresh. The totopos stayed crisp throughout, despite mas sauciness. Excellent beans and potatoes. (Ryan)

I wasn't quite as impressed as Ryan, but I suspect that was due in large part to my utter distraction with the unusual combination of new age music and Dia de los Muertos decor we encountered on our visit. I do clearly remember the table sauces being very delicious. We'll be back. (Julie)

La Cocina de Consuelo  4516 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756  (512) 524-4740
La Cocina de Consuelo chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
This popular, crowded spot on Burnet is well worth the wait in line on a Sunday morning. The chilaquiles were nicely-portioned with a perfectly-cooked egg. Overall, a bit bland compared to some of our favorites, but probably a very good example of comida typica. Recommended. (Ryan)

Las Cazuelas  1701 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702  (512) 479-7911
Las Cazuelas chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Generous portions for your food dollar and certainly tasty, though with its rich sauce it can be a bit of a palate-overwhelming plate. The potatoes are a little underdone for my preference. The complementary chips and salsa will spoil you, though. (Julie) 

The first time we visited Las Cazuelas I was stunned that we could get two orders of chilaquiles and a pair of coffees for less than 10 bucks. I felt like we were ripping them off. The portion size is a little smaller than the gigantic platter it used to be, but the price hasn't changed. It's not the best chilaquiles in town, but at $3.95*, it's still a steal. (Ryan) *Price is no longer $3.95, it is now $5.99

La Familia  3601 West William Cannon Drive #900, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 892-1311
La Familia chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The chilaquiles with ranchero sauce at La Familia were mild, with giant chunks of tomato, garlic and onion. The verde version was solid. Both were topped with cheddar and jack cheese. This is a decent plate of chilaquiles in our zip code. (Ryan)

La Fruta Feliz  3124 Manor Road, Austin, TX 78723  (512) 473-0037
La Fruta Feliz chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
I remember exactly how I was feeling the first morning we stopped in at La Fruta Feliz. I was supremely hungover, but hopeful. I'd heard great things about the chivo, but was more excited for the chilaquiles. This was one of those cases though, as we were the only gringos in the joint, the cook decided to have a little fun at what he thought might be our expense. Slipping some habanero into the verde sauce burned every last cobweb out of my cluttered cabeza, which was exactly what I needed. When the cashier took my money at the register, he queried "Were they hot enough for you?" The cook to his left was grinning wide as the Rio Grande. I narrowed my eyes a bit and gave him half a smile. "It was perfecto." Subsequent orders of chilaquiles have still been delicious, but apparently sin habanero and not nearly as spicy as that first glorious visit. (Ryan)

Always unfussy, these chilaquiles – red or green – are terrific (though green is our go-to). Delightful, too, that the service here includes a bowl of chopped onions and fresh cilantro in addition to their hot sauce offerings. I'm not suggesting you should mess with a good thing, but having options here is cool. If coffee is not your cup of tea, this is the place to order an agua fresca. They have a wide selection – the sandia (watermelon) and fresa (strawberry) are particular favorites of ours. (Julie)

La Michoacana Meat Market  1917 East 7th Street, Austin, TX 78702  (512) 473-8487
La Michoacana Meat Market chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
If you ever thought about learning a little Spanish, the most important words and phrases to know are related directly to the ordering of breakfast. Trust me. La Michoacana Meat Markets are scattered throughout Austin, and you can get a mean plate of chilaquiles for next to nothing. (Ryan)

These are some beautiful chilaquiles, but I think I was focused on an even prettier plate of sopes de desayuno that day. (Julie)

La Placita  5310 South Pleasant Valley, Austin, TX 78744  (512) 628-0277
La Placita chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The totopos were emasculated by the sauce and covered in congealed cheese, but the beans were rich and porky and the eggs were nicely-fried. (Ryan)

Under certain circumstances, I can appreciate a slightly porky flavor in refritos. These were a bit much for me, personally. Don't get me started again about the goopy cheese. (Julie)

Los Chilaquiles  200 South Bell Blvd., Cedar Park, TX 78613  (512) 344-9389
Los Chilaquiles chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
If you name your restaurant Los Chilaquiles and your website says "No one makes chilaquiles like we do," you'd better do los chilaquiles very, very well. The dish is available with any sauce on their menu, and we tried out a tangy verdes, along with a really flavorful and nicely-spicy habanero that had both of our noses running. Served with mild beans and a little bolillo roll for sopping up any remaining sauce. If you're in the neighborhood, Los Chilaquiles is the place to go. (Ryan)

Los Huaraches  1628 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702  (512) 524-1490
Los Huaraches chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Los Huaraches has the distinction of serving us one of the best ranchero sauces we've eaten to date. Overall, a very good plate of chilaquiles, with soft potatoes in a similar sauce, well-executed eggs and lovely beans. The staff is super nice. (Ryan)

Los Pinos  4919 Hudson Bend, Austin, TX 78734  (512) 266-3231
Los Pinos chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Quite a drive for us, but the verde sauce was bright and ridiculously good. If Los Pinos were closer to the 78745, we'd visit far more often. (Ryan)

Maudie's Hacienda  9911 Brodie Lane, Austin, TX 78748  (512) 280-8700
Maudie's Hacienda chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
An overly-salty, cheesy, runny-sauced debacle. One visit was one too many. (Ryan)

Since they only offer one variety of chilaquiles, I ordered something else this particular day. Thank goodness. (Julie)

Maria's Taco Xpress  2529 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704  (512) 444-0261
Maria's Taco Xpress chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Sundays at Maria's are packed, with the weekly Gospel Brunch (aka Hippie Church) playing out to the masses eating their queso and Rachael Ray's "Favorite" Miga Taco. Both red and green chilaquiles were good, but not exceptional. The guacamole is a great rico touch that you don't see on most $6.99 chilaquiles plates, and the single egg was nicely-cooked. (Ryan)

Mi Ranchito  1105 Farm to Market 1626, Manchaca, TX 78652  (512) 292-8107
Mi Ranchito chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
This little Mexican joint where Manchaca Road dead ends at FM1626 is an out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall kind of place you want to become a regular at. Everything was fresh and hot, but the chilaquiles were soggy and tasted like straight-up enchilada sauce. (Ryan)

The totopos here were super thin and just couldn't stand up to the sauce treatment. The plate looks so honestly composed, I keep thinking that with a few tweaks they have so much potential... (Julie)

Mr. Natural  2414-A South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704  (512) 916-9223
Mr. Natural chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Mr. Natural offers a decent plate of chilaquiles, but the consistency varies depending on the restaurant location and who's preparing your food that day. The first time we visited was fantastic. Every other time was hit or miss, with completely different preparation and plating. (Ryan)

You might be gambling a bit with the chilaquiles, but for a heavenly head-clearing agua fresca you can do no better than their pineapple-spinach. (Julie)

Polvo's  2004 South 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 441-5446
Polvo's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

We visited Polvo's for breakfast after hearing some good things, but were a little put off by their chilaquiles. Everything on the plate was swimming in an unappealing light brownish-red liquid. The only thing on the plate that had any tooth to it was the black beans.  (Ryan)

San Juanita Tacos  4406 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 443-9308
San Juanita Tacos chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
San Juanita offered up a spicy verde with thick totopos and very nice beans. A solid and serviceable chilaquiles plate that I would eat again. (Ryan) 

Santa Catarina  1310 Ranch Road 620 S, Lakeway, TX 78734  (512) 300-0946
Santa Catarina chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

The chilaquiles at Santa Catarina are a thick, heavy (almost too heavy) version with a very spicy paste-like verde sauce. Good totopos, perfectly-cooked eggs. The drizzle of crema and addition of some finely-chopped onion helped cut through the rich sauce. Good coffee, and a really pretty fruit plate. (Ryan) 

Sazón  1816 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704  (512) 326-4395
Sazon chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Solid chilaquiles with the option for your choice of any menu sauces – including mole. Nicely done.  (Ryan)

Super Burrito  1800 East Oltorf Street, Austin, TX 78741  (512) 443-8226
Super Burrito chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Disqualified because I'm not sure how these get to be called chilaquiles, but they are pretty tasty. With their store-bought chips, loose refritos and cheddar cheese, I've dubbed these "nachoquiles" – and I totally recommend them. Just don't place your order expecting anything resembling proper chilaquiles. (Julie) 

I was more drawn to/repulsed by the prospect of a giant burrito filled with carne asada, french fries, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream. I know what I'm getting next time we go to Super Burrito, and it's not the "nachoquiles." (Ryan)

Takoba  1411 East 7th Street, Austin, TX 78702  (512) 628-4466
Takoba chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The standard menu offering is rojos. It's a heavy ensemble, spicy red with mas chiles that after a few bites was begging for some sour cream or crema to balance it out. Even making it only part of the way through this plate, I still felt like I needed either a good nap or a long walk afterward. (Julie) 

A pretty, simple preparation with some potatoes and grilled onions on the side, Takoba's chilaquiles are a fiery, feisty fast-breaker with various, visible chunks of chiles in the sauce. Almost a little too hot for us on this particular visit. Worth a revisit. (Ryan)

Tamale House East  1707 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702  (512) 495-9504
Tamale House East chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Tamale House earned themselves a reputation in Austin for delicious, ridiculously cheap breakfast tacos. They are not known the world over for their chilaquiles, and there is a reason for that. (Ryan)

Notable only for the unique addition of styrofoam and floppy french fries. (Julie)

Taquerias Arandinas  700 West William Cannon Drive, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 693-0206
Taquerias Arandinas chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
You have to have a steady hand and a very high tolerance for gloppy cheese to get through a plate of these – red or green. (Julie)

Taqueria La Escondida #3  1333 West Ben White Blvd., Austin, TX 78704  (512) 707-1688
Taqueria La Escondida #3 chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Not all Taqueria La Escondido restaurants are created equal, and the #3 version of chilaquiles pales in comparison to the #2 version out on highway 290 (see top 10 chilaquiles, above). Filling, but forgettable. (Ryan)

Taqueria Los Jaliscienses  1815 West Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 445-4866
Taqueria Los Jaliscienses chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

Both red and green were sad plates, with goopy cheese and quick-fried eggs. The coffee was no bueno. (Ryan)

Taqueria Los Jaliscienses  6201 US 290, Austin, TX 78723  (512) 452-3332 
Taqueria Los Jaliscienses chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
A little better than their south location off of Ben White, but still not that satisfying a plate – unremarkable, unmemorable. (Ryan)

Tekila's  717 East Ben White Blvd, Austin, TX 78704  (512) 442-8500 (CLOSED, now a Taqueria Arandinas location)
Tekila's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

Tekila's had a good chilaquiles ranchero with chunks of onions and peppers. The verdes was bright and fresh, but the eggs had an off taste that stayed with me for hours. A little too much goopy cheese and overly-spiced beans. (Ryan)

I thought the verde sauce was pretty tasty, but the balance of the dish overall didn't win me over enough to recommend it or warrant a return visit. (Julie)

Tex-Mex Joe's  7600 North Lamar Blvd., Suite F, Austin, TX 78752  (512) 371-3625
Tex-Mex Joe's chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
The tomatillo sauce at Tex-Mex Joe's is fresh and vibrant, but a little one-note with no noticeable heat. There are also chilaquiles with guajillo sauce described on the menu, but this sauce was unfortunately not available on our visit. The almost spare-looking plate might have been respectable for the $6.99 price tag, but adding two eggs made it a penny shy of nine bucks. Good coffee and nice service, not so great value. (Ryan)

Tortilleria Krystal 1033 E Howard Lane, Unit C, Austin, TX 78753  (512) 252-7750
Tortilleria Krystal chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Excellent tortillas undermined by too little sauce and too much cheese. Eggs "over easy" did not translate well, and what I received was dry and scrambled within an inch of its life. I now know to order "huevos estrellados tiernes." (Ryan)

Trudy's South Star  901 Little Texas Lane, Austin, TX 78745  (512) 326-9899
Trudy's South Star chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

Probably more well-known for their migas and Mexican martinis than anything else, the chilaquiles were underwhelming. The sauce is described as a spicy, roasted tomato jalapeño version, but was mild and bland to the point of boring. Thickly-cheesy. (Ryan)

Tyson's Tacos  4905 Airport Blvd., Austin, TX 78751  (512) 451-3326
Tyson's Tacos chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
We'd heard great things about Tyson's Tacos, a little stand off Airport Boulevard, and were excited to see chilaquiles on the Sunday brunch menu. While every taco we tried was fresh and flavorful, the chilaquiles looked like someone in the kitchen poured the butt-end of a bag of broken tortilla chips on a plate, unceremoniously dumped all the leftover salsa bowls from previous customers on top of the chip shards and shoved it under a broiler. A sad, disappointing plate. Stick to the tacos and you'll be just fine. (Ryan)

Vazquez Restaurant  915 East Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753  (512) 837-2753
Vazquez Restaurant chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling

A nice, traditional rendition of chilaquiles at Vazquez Restaurant with no fuss, no muss, just the basics. The sauce was spicy enough that a little crema would have been a nice foil. (Ryan)

This was another verde-added ranchero-style sauce with a serious kick. I love spicy, but after a point it starts to weigh on you. Excellent beans. (Julie)

Zocalo Cafe  1110 West Lynn Street, Austin, TX 78703  (512) 472-8226
Zocalo Cafe chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Ignore the colorful bell pepper and potato ensemble and you've got a pretty tasty, if slightly unconventional, chilaquiles "stack" served over whole black beans. (Julie)

Bonus chilaquiles:

Señor Moose Cafe  5242 Leary Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107  (206) 704-5568
Señor Moose Cafe chilaquiles. © Ryan Schierling
Chilaquiles, for us, originated here, at a tidy, tiny little joint in a historically Scandanavian neighborhood in Seattle. They didn't even begin as a Mexican restaurant. It took nine months of the owner missing comida tipica, before Moose Cafe became Señor Moose Cafe, serving cooking straight out of central plateau Mexico's fondas and backroom kitchens. Their chilaquiles are rock solid, and a benchmark that has informed and shaped our opinions of every plate of chilaquiles after. If you're ever in Seattle, stop at the Moose. You will not be disappointed. 


  1. Based on this, I tried out La Casita yesterday. Everything was great, except I asked for my eggs over easy and got them well done. Any idea on how to ensure that doesn't happen again or was that just a fluke? Do I need to learn how to ask for them over easy in Spanish?

    1. I love La Casita, and in our experience they are exceptionally consistent. I would definitely go with "just a fluke."

      Trying to discern the proper way to say "over-easy" in Spanish turns out to be a little more difficult than one might expect -- and we've only very rarely run into any confusion with the English term in the Austin area.

    2. We finally found out the correct phrasing to be "huevos estrellados tiernes." Tender fried eggs.

  2. Wow! THis is Chilaquiles Heaven! I'm from Mexico and I've never seen them in the menu, so afraid to order them, now with pictures, I know which ones look more like my kind! lol awesome post! thank you!.. Janitzio y el sol y la luna looks promising….which ones are you favorites?

    1. If Veracruz All Natural ever opens up a proper restaurant, they've said they would make chilaquiles again. Those are some of the best. In the meantime, any on our top ten are a go-to almost any day of the week. El Torito is one of my faves.

  3. La catrina also tickles my eyeballs!

    1. Unfortunately, La Catrina closed at some point last year!

  4. Amazing! I fell in love with chilaquiles in Mazatlan several years ago, and when we travel, I always look up breakfast places to find places that have them. This is just an AWESOME post—thank you for sharing! We'll be in Austin in a few weeks and I promise you, we'll hit up one of your top 10 :)

    1. Thanks, Anna! We're lucky there are so many places in Austin that make amazing chilaquiles, and don't just phone it in with a cheesy plate of Tex-Mex migas. We're continuing the hunt... now at 80+ different plates. We'll probably update this post when we hit 100... and then keep on looking for more new ones.


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