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12 Gourmet Chilaquiles You Have to Try

By Sarah Freeman
April 24, 2014

As we continue to contemplate the epic battle between savory and sweet brunch staples, we arrive at what might just be savory's ace in the hole. Chilaquiles - the Mexican-inspired brunch dish made by soaking tortillas in salsa and then frying or baking them until they are slightly crispy and slightly soggy. Throw some cheese on there and a fried egg with a still runny center and you have a delicious way to start a Saturday or Sunday.

While classic chilaquiles contain nothing more than chips, salsa, cheese or sour cream and an optional egg, chefs such as Chris Pandel at The Bristol are going gourmet with the popular dish. His made-to-order dish involves braising pork in a salsa roja containing a myriad of dried chilies, tomatillos, roasted pork stock, charred onions and garlic, and cilantro. Then the freshly fried corn tortilla chips are tossed with the same salsa roja and shredded pork. Pandel opts not to bake the chips, but rather serves them as is with fresh lime juice for freshness and a fried egg, pork belly rasher and crumbled cotija cheese.

It’s a lot of work for something that seems so simple, but trust us when we say that it's not easy to achieve the perfect balance of spice, heat, sogginess and crispiness when the vessel of choice is a tortilla chip. Below, see how other chefs around Chicago are interpreting this brunch favorite.

  • 2 Sparrows

    Why We Love Them: Chef Greg Ellis’ chilaquiles are set apart from the pack due to a creamy Anaheim aioli. This spice addition is the perfect complement to tortilla chips, fire-roasted tomatillo salsa, two sunny side farm eggs and queso fresco.
    Price: $10; add shredded chicken or beef chorizo for $4

    553 W. Diversey Pkwy.; 773-234-2320

  • Ada St

    Why We Love Them: Served smoldering with a fiery chipotle sauce in a mini cast iron skillet, these chilaquiles have a kick. They start with housemade tortilla chips, then signature red sauce, pinto beans, queso tetilla and a poached egg.
    Price: $8

    1664 N. Ada St.; 773-697-7069

  • Au Cheval

    Why We Love Them: This plate of chilaquiles doesn’t skimp on anything. First the sheer size of the overflowing mound of salsa verde-soaked chips, and then the flavors of guacamole pickled onion, jalapeno, queso fresco, cilantro and scrambled eggs.
    Price: $13.75 for a small or $17.95 for a large

    800 W. Randolph St.; 312-929-4580

  • The Bristol

    Why We Love Them: Chef Chris Pandel designs his interpretation of chilaquiles around tender pork braised in salsa roja. To complement the rich meat, he uses the same salsa roja to toss freshly fried tortillas. It's finished with a fried egg, lime, cilantro and queso fresco.

    Price: $12

    2152 N. Damen Ave.; 773-862-5555

  • Café con Leche

    Why We Love Them: Although it might cost a bit more, the addition of chunks of seared steak might be the best decision you make all morning. Simmering tortilla chips in salsa verde and onions makes the chilaquiles themselves.
    Price: $9.95; add chicken or picadillo for $2.50 and steak or chorizo for $2.95

    2714 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-289-4274

  • DMK

    Why We Love Them: Chilaquiles meets cheeseburger in the Chilaburger. It starts with a grass-fed beef patty that is topped with scrambled eggs, jalapeño, tortilla chips, tomatillo salsa verde and jack cheese.
    Price: $10

    2954 N. Sheffield Ave.; 773-360-8686

  • GT Fish & Oyster

    Why We Love Them: The star of this seafood restaurant’s brunch menu has nothing fishy about it. It’s chilaquiles made gourmet with duck confit, housemade salsa verde, queso fresco, and a fried egg.
    Price: $12

    531 N. Wells St.; 312-929-3501

  • Hutch

    Why We Love Them: This simple interpretation of chilaquiles starts with a bed of crisp, fried tortillas that is contrasted by light, fluffy scrambled eggs. It gets a layering of the traditional accents, including chihuahua cheese, salsa roja and sour cream.
    Price: $9; add avocado or chorizo for $2

    3301 N. Clark St.; 773-248-1155

  • Little Market

    Why We Love Them: Olivia’s chilaquiles, named after one of the restaurant’s cooks, are made with chips generously coasted in roasted tomato sauce and served slightly crisp with queso fresco, fried egg and pico de gallo.
    Price: $12.50

    10 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-640-8141

  • Mercadito

    Why We Love Them: This DIY chilaquiles start with a choice of creamy tomatillo sauce or spicy chile-guajillo sauce served over corn tortilla chips with a duo of Chihuahua and Oaxaca cheese and finished with crema fresca.
    Price: $12.50; add fried egg for $2

    108 W. Kinzie St.; 312-329-9555

  • Stella Barra

    Why We Love Them: Because it’s chilaquiles on a pizza. One of the new brunch pizzas features a bit of Italian-Mexican fusion with parmesan cream sauce, whole eggs, grana padano, crispy tortilla strips, fresno chili and green onion with a side of Cholula hot sauce.
    Price: $15.95

    1954 N. Halsted St.; 773-634-4101

  • Topolobampo

    Why We Love Them: Rick Bayless’ version of upscale chilaquiles takes the form of Chilaquiles Yucatecos - a dish made with crispy tortillas, roasted tomato-habanero sauce, frizzles egg and avocado delicately arranged in a frisée salad.
    Price: $17; add smoked chicken for $3

    445 N. Clark St.; 312-661-1434

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Places Mentioned

Topolobampo

Mexican • River North

Food27 Decor25 Service26 Cost$85
 
 
 
The Bristol

American • Bucktown

Food26 Decor22 Service23 Cost$41
 
 
 
GT Fish & Oyster

Seafood • River North

Food25 Decor24 Service23 Cost$46
 
 
 
hutch

American • Lakeview

Food23 Decor21 Service23 Cost$33
 
 
 
DMK Burger Bar

Burger • Lakeview

Food24 Decor19 Service21 Cost$19
 
 
 
Ada Street

Pulaski Park

Food26 Decor25 Service25 Cost$50
 
 
 
Mercadito Chicago

Mexican • River North

Food24 Decor23 Service20 Cost$43
 
 
 
 
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