Thanks for the heads up i definitely want to read this!
I love it! Steve Lopez is a true 'hound & I feel the same way about chilaquiles such a great comfort food
The whole about what-you-grew-up-with being ideal is so important. First place I had chilaquiles was at a hospital cafeteria (Olive View in Sylmar, in case anyone was wondering). Compared to what I’ve seen/heard since, they were objectively terrible. Kind of dry; perhaps a bit too much egg; no meat, cotija, or crema. Very little salsa. But they were still so satisfying, esp when you got a bit of a charred end w/ a nice glop of cheese.
The few I’ve had since in actual restaurants don’t bear a ton of resemblance to that and seem very “fancy.” They don’t quite hit the spot in the same way, although they taste much better.
Maybe I’ll give some of the listed places a whirl…
Strangely enough one of my favorite chilaquiles was at a nearby hospital cafeteria - Henry Mayo in Santa Clarita. When I used to work there all the Mexican food was really good.
The etymology of the word is interesting to me - does anyone know? If it were a portmanteau of chili and “something else” I would expect it to be chiliquiles, not chilaquiles.
@paranoidgarliclover, I used to have the breakfast sandwich every morning after being on call at Olive View. It was wonderful! Never tried the chilaquiles but maybe I should have. Thanks for the memory!
I was curious & this is what came up:
I think I ate at the New Mecca a couple of times in the early 80s.
Well, just as reminder, it wasn’t objectively that tasty, but one can seldom go horribly wrong w/ toasty carbs, cheese, and egg in the morning. So you prob didn’t miss that much.
You should’ve seen the worker’s face when I ordered the pozole (at lunch). “You know there’s tripe in this?” Yes, Chinese people are fine w/ tripe. And don’t forget the side of cilantro, lime, and chopped onions, please.
Anyways, back to the topic.
Most likely because all the kitchen staff was Mexican and the production manager gave them free rein to produce for the hospital cafe and/or doctor’s dining room. Or, at least that’s what I did with my staff when I ran production at Harbor/UCLA Med Center.
I love chilaquiles too and am sorry to say they aren’t done particularly well here in San Diego.
The most interesting prep method I’ve seen was in Monterrey, Mexico on the campus of Tech de Monterrey. Their student dining cafeteria had a flat-top set aside specifically for chilaquiles. When they were ordered, the chips went on to the flat-top and were tossed to warm through. There were 2 large containers of sauce on side burners, red and green salsa. (Yes, the salsa was house made). The salsa was laddled onto the chips, I would guess somewhere between 16-18 oz, maybe more, the portion size was generous. Then the line cooks went to work, moving and tossing the chips and salsa together until they were seriously hot. The chilaquiles were dumped onto a disposable try, topped with whatever the customer had ordered and handed over. I remember that they were very popular because they were ridiculously cheap because they fit into the student budget and filled them up.
The flat-top chilaquiles were awfully good.