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Where to find the best chilaquiles for breakfast in Mexico City

Ubiquitous across Mexico, chilaquiles are one of the most popular savoury breakfasts. Here are five of the best spots to try them.

By Liliana López Sorzano
Published 9 Apr 2021, 08:00 BST, Updated 15 Jun 2021, 14:34 BST
Built in the early Colonial period, Santa Catarina church in Coyoacán, Mexico City, is often festooned ...

Built in the early Colonial period, Santa Catarina church in Coyoacán, Mexico City, is often festooned with multicoloured flags. 

Photograph by Getty Images

Chilaquiles are one of Mexico's most popular breakfasts. Totopos (crunchy fried corn tortilla triangles) are doused in either a green tomatillo sauce (salsa verde) or spicy red tomato sauce (salsa roja), and then topped with cream, sliced onions and crumbled queso fresco (a local mild white cheese). But there’s no right or wrong when it comes to the toppings; the dish’s beauty lies in its versatility, with variations including fried eggs, shredded chicken, beef, avocado, chorizo, melted cheese and more. 

The best chilaquiles are made with high-quality tortilla chips that hold up when they’re stirred into the sauce, creating a texture that’s both crispy and soft, but never soggy. The sauce should be rich and well balanced, mixing together tanginess, sweetness and a bit of spice.

Particularly popular in central Mexico are red chilaquiles with chilorio (pork) and cheese.

Photograph by Getty Images

In Mexico City, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to chilaquiles — but a few restaurants just manage to edge out the competition. Lalo!, a Roma neighbourhood breakfast place, is run by acclaimed chef Eduardo García, better known as Lalo. The chilaquiles (160 pesos/£6 with eggs) are indisputably among the best in town — and generously portioned, too. The green variety comes with toppings of avocado, coriander, sliced onion, crumbled queso fresco and optional fried eggs. And if you’re extra hungry, order a side of beans or the house bacon. All the produce is locally sourced, the masa comes from native and heirloom corn and the vegetables are organic.

El Cardenal is a gastronomic landmark serving traditional Mexican cuisine across its six branches, including one set within a colonial-era building in the historic centre. Everything is prepared in-house and cooked with seasonal ingredients, and the chilaquiles (120 pesos/£4.50) are served in a clay pot to keep them warm until the very last bite. You can’t go wrong with any of the options: red or green sauce, fried eggs or shredded chicken. Plus, they come with a side of fried beans. 

Meanwhile, casual dining spot Chilpa is a true chilaquiles specialist, and here they’re served all day (from 88 pesos/£3). Build your own, starting with the base: baked or fried totopos. Next, choose the salsa, whether it’s the usual red or green, beans, chipotle or a spicy five-chilli sauce. Still not hot enough? Try the habanero. Top it with panela cheese, avocado, vegan chorizo, ribeye steak, prawns or eggs.

Looking for something a little fancier? At renowned chef Elena Reygadas’ flagship restaurant Rosetta, she serves a high-end brunch on Fridays and weekends. Her chilaquiles (170 pesos/£6) are doused in a charred red sauce and jocoque (a cream made from fermented milk). At Reygadas’ casual restaurants, Café Nin and Lardo, the chilaquiles (120 pesos/£4.50) are also given a modern twist by combining a cooked and raw green sauce, epazote (a local herb), coriander and burrata with a burst of freshness from pieces of nopales (a type of cactus). Both versions are packed with flavour.

One more must-try Mexican breakfast

Among the numerous Mexican egg dishes, huevos rancheros is surely the best known. Crispy tortillas are topped with fried eggs and a lightly spicy tomato sauce, and sometimes served with a side of beans. Even if it’s not on the breakfast menu, most restaurants will make it for you if you ask nicely.  

Published in Issue 11 (spring 2021) of National Geographic Traveller Food

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