This is a post in my series ranking all of the chilaquiles in Austin. It is not a serious endeavor because they’re all good chilaquiles, Brent.
What are chilaquiles? They are a Mexican “use up all the leftovers” dish usually served for breakfast in Tex-Mex restaurants. Tortilla chips are cooked in salsa and topped with cheese and eggs.
These are the chilaquiles that started it all for me. They weren’t the first I ever fell in love with, but they were so good they set me on the quest to see if there could possibly be any better in Austin. The salsa roja is just spicy enough and it douses the chips in just the right quantity. The refried beans are not a requirement of chilaquiles, but they are my favorite accompaniment. At Los Altos, they give you plenty of rich refried pintos. The whole plate is topped off with a large dollop of sour cream that provides the tartness needed to cut through the rich beans. What really earns these chilaquiles top rank, however, is the cheese. Los Altos uses a creamy Oaxacan that melts completely onto the chips. It’s chilaquiles perfection.
Eldorado Cafe veers slightly from traditional Tex-Mex in order to be a little more hip. Usually that solicits a side-eye, but here it really works. Like Los Altos, they have creamy melty cheese and sour cream. Their salsas here are amazing so whichever you choose for your chilaquiles will be delicious. You can pick your sides according to the menu, but I seem to remember them just giving me beans and potatoes without asking. That’s fine; I love beans! Usually I can do without breakfast potatoes, but these were “three potato hash,” with tiny bites of sweet potato and rajas mixed in. Every component on the plate shows attention to detail and flavor.
I had the chilaquiles at Veracruz’s brick-and-mortar location off of Research. Publications like Texas Monthly have called Veracruz tacos “best of Austin,” so I was disappointed with the chilaquiles. They make their own corn tortillas and fry them for the chilaquiles, which actully works against them here. Chips made from tortilla tend to be than the chips that usually add the crunch to chilaquiles in restaurants. There were are also several inconsistencies and service errors that prevented us from fully enjoying our chilaquiles. We ordered two plates and one was drenched in salsa while the ther had barely enough to even distinguish the dish from a pile of chips. The eggs were cooked differently in each dish too, with one dish having eggs that were well overcooked. Maybe it was an off day; we were sharing a table with strangers because the restaurant was packed and our companions complained about their dishes too. As for sides, it came topped with steak and sides of beans and maduros. I LOVE maduros–sweet plantains–so my eyes turned heart-shaped when I saw them on the menu. The steak however… I don’t really eat meat, so I ordered the chilaquiles vegetarian but still had to pay the same price. When I finally got my plate after a long wait, sure enough, there it was.
Of all of the chilaquiles I’ve tried in Austin, these were the most fast food-like but I really enjoyed them Full disclosure: I was absolutely ravenous so my judgement was impaired by the sheer pleasure of eating. The chips were crunchy, and the beans were basic in a good way. With beans, you don’t need to get fancy. The potatoes were basic in what I would consider a bad way. They were potatoes, that’s the best that could be said for them. One unique element was the eggs. These were the only chilaquiles I’ve had in Austin where the egg was scrambled. This is the more traditional Mexican way, but given a choice, I always ask for my eggs fried or over easy. Maybe the traditional Mexican way is better though; the scrambled eggs interlace with the chips, giving a good proportion of each item per bite. The only cheese was cotija, though, which is my least favorite cheese. Overall, a solid offering.
- Los Altos
- Eldorado Cafe
- El Tacorrido
- Veracruz All Natural