Life comes at you fast. Perhaps your boss accidentally copied you on an email about, uh, you. Or maybe your friend who is always willing to go to concerts with you (even though they clap to the beat) up and moved to New York on a whim. Or maybe you tried finding cheap(er) gas and had a good cry in your car. It’s in these tough moments when you need something as satisfying and delicious as chilaquiles.
Yes, this Mexican classic is a certified mood-booster with its warmth, heartiness, often creaminess, and sometimes enough spice to get that upper lip sweating. In fact, this Mexican staple is a great choice for pretty much any emotional state, time of day, or looming astrological forecast that’s keeping us up at night. But these rehydrated tortilla chips can also be underwhelming if not made with some extra TLC – which is why we’ve done the hard work for you by sampling plenty of them. Here are the best chilaquiles in LA.
Similar to the “Creative Director” you matched with last week, Venice Bakery is also a multi-hyphenate. This bakery-restaurant-café hits the mark on every level, from its hearty Huevos Rancheros to the large pan dulce selection that includes an exceptionally moist Salvadoran quesadilla. But the real reason we wander into this Culver City spot on Sunday mornings is for the *SUPER* Chilaquiles Divorciados (emphasis on SUPER feeling appropriate.) If you dread deciding between red or green chilaquiles, relax. Here, you get a 50/50 split of the two. The green sauce packs a tart tomatillo bite, and the red sauce comes with plenty of tomato-based sweetness. These chilaquiles also come with modification options, like spice level, protein add-ons, and eggs in the style of your choosing. Yes, 9 am is a perfectly acceptable time to scarf down a breaded chicken cutlet.
A hearty breakfast is usually enough to get us out of bed, but the spicy chilaquiles at Tlayuda LA have us busting out the door. Instead of the typically uniform totopos, these chilaquiles are made from thicker, crispier Oaxacan tlayudas broken into various-sized shards. These crunchy bites also never fully soften under the salsa, bringing plenty of texture to this hearty breakfast dish. The salsa verde at this East Hollywood spot is particularly great with its bright cilantro flavor and green chile heat that clears the brain fog from last night’s festivities And instead of stewing the tlayuda with the tasty sauce, the salsa gets generously ladled on top, along with a runny egg and some spicy Oaxacan chorizo, if you care to add that to the mix. It’s creamy, crunchy, smoky, and overall, a perfect excuse to zone out for 30 minutes.
Panadería Y Restaurante Tlacolula is a Oaxacan mini-mart where you can get everything from fresh produce, pan dulce, and miscellaneous things like dish soap or a year’s supply of Maseca if you’re looking to stock up. The red chilaquiles here also happen to be very good. This West Adams spot whips out some of the softest, sauciest tortilla chips covered in a light red sauce that’s never too spicy. But the lack of heat isn’t a dealbreaker here — we’re big fans of the tomato-forward, semi-sweet, semi-savory salsa that makes a great base for a runny fried egg, a bite of sharp raw onion, and a healthy sprinkling of chopped cilantro. Mop everything up with the kitchen’s complimentary bolillo rolls or dunk it instead into their homemade cafe de pot.
Sometimes less is more, but not when it comes to chilaquiles at El Huarachito. If you’re craving spicy tortilla chips at this Lincoln Heights spot, we strongly encourage going with El Campesino (aka chilaquiles with everything else you could possibly want.) The large plate comes with a serving of red chilaquiles with a smoky, savory red sauce, cotija cheese, and a generous drizzle of cream. The tortilla chips sit next to some fairly tasty breakfast potatoes with bell pepper, two fried eggs, and some very good beans that we always want more of.
The chilaquiles at West Hollywood’s Gracias Madre are the misunderstood teenagers of this list. Sure, they’re “different” because they’re plant-based and don’t come slathered in ladles of salsa. But if there’s one thing that teenage angst taught us, it’s that different is cool and we probably shouldn’t invest too much emotional energy into things like stewed tortilla chips. Rather than salsa, these totopos get coated in a delicious coloradito mole that’s sweet and smoky, with a subtle hint of heat lingering in the background. The avocado and cashew crema topping brings some extra nuttiness and texture, along with the dish’s side of black bean puree—not the most exciting beans we’ve had, but we’re not complaining either.
People come to Mi Ranchito Veracruz for the banana leaf tamales but stay for the chilaquiles (and the tamales too because they’re actually delicious.) This North Hollywood restaurant knows a thing or two about serving up chilaquiles in a variety of ways. The standard base is totopos cooked in a smoky red sauce, bright green sauce, or a sweet and savory black mole topped with a fair share of fresh cheese, cream, and cilantro. From there, the sky’s the limit with your choice of cochinita pibil, carne asada, and eggs either fried or scrambled. We’re big fans of the warm red sauce and asada combo that balances out their respective heat and salt in one very satisfying bite.
Chilaquiles at this Arlington Heights restaurant get a Oaxacan twist, and we’re into it. Besides coming with the kitchen’s red or green salsa, these chilaquiles get topped with Oaxacan meats like spicy chorizo links, chili-rubbed cecina, or salty Tasajo-style beef. Using your side of homemade corn tortillas, you can have a bit of everything in one bite, from the spicy salsa to the nicely cooked proteins and side of stewed black beans. We should also mention the borderline ingenious creation on their menu known as the chilaquiles omelet. Think of a fluffy diner-style omelet filled with spicy tortilla chips and melted Oaxacan quesillo. It’s a masterwork.
La Casita Mexicana is one of those Mexican joints that looks like it could exist inside some all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. The traditional decor here is on full-blast with lanterns, skulls, and even a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe to set the tone. And just like that resort where we’d like to retire at, every dish gets carefully plated with its necessary cilantro garnish – except here you’re not painfully sunburnt or fighting with your Mom about tomorrow’s scuba lesson. Instead, you get a wide range of Mexican classics, including some very tasty chilaquiles with serious flair. The divorced chilaquiles eat fully coated in delicious salsa while holding onto their crunch. Besides the 50/50 split between red sauce and green sauce, these chilaquiles also get a generous crumble of salty cotija cheese, sharp red onion, and a thick dollop of cream to balance out the heat.
The chilaquiles at this Bell Gardens spot are the perfect example of a classic done right. These chilaquiles rojo come in a spicy salsa with just the right amount of smoke, as well as crumbled queso fresco, crema, cilantro, and some very creamy beans on the side that are perfectly seasoned. The fried eggs on top are extra lacy on the edges with plenty of yolk to enjoy too. It’s breakfast chilaquiles at their finest, no less, no more.
West Adam’s Taqueria Los Anaya doesn’t make you choose between tacos or chilaquiles because sometimes you can have a little bit of both. This is particularly clutch for when you show up in that weird not-breakfast-not-lunch hour (commonly referred to as brunch), and you can turn your usual taco order into a morning platter of chilaquiles instead. With al pastor-style pork, carnitas, and asada all on the toppings menu, you can add all sorts of protein onto your crispy tortilla chips. Also available in both red and green, the red sauce here happens to be extremely tasty with a hint of smoke that doesn’t overpower. The addition of mozzarella (rather than traditional Mexican cheeses), might seem like a turn for the interesting, but it adds a nice layer of saltiness and creaminess that we don’t mind.