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The Best Pretty Good Chilaquiles In Oaxaca


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Joby Hedden



Welcome to the wonderful world of chilaquiles, a dish that is loved by food enthusiasts all over the world. If you’re a fan of Mexican cuisine, then you’re in for a real treat. In this article, we will be exploring the vibrant and flavorful chilaquiles scene in the beautiful city of Oaxaca, Mexico.


Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish made from fried or baked tortillas that are cut into quarters and then topped with a variety of delicious ingredients. The dish is typically served for breakfast or brunch and is known for its bold flavors and satisfying textures.


Oaxaca, often referred to as the culinary capital of Mexico, is a treasure trove for food lovers. From rich mole sauces to fresh tlayudas, this city has it all. When it comes to chilaquiles, Oaxaca takes this classic dish to new heights with its unique and innovative twists.


One of the reasons why chilaquiles are so beloved is their versatility. Whether you prefer them topped with salsa verde or smothered in mole sauce, there’s a chilaquiles variation to suit every palate. The combination of crispy tortillas, tangy sauces, and creamy toppings creates a symphony of flavors that is sure to leave you craving more.


Throughout this article, we will delve into the history of chilaquiles in Oaxaca, explore what sets them apart from other regions, highlight the top-rated chilaquiles restaurants in the city, and even share some mouthwatering recipes from local chefs. Whether you’re a seasoned chilaquiles enthusiast or someone looking to experience this delightful dish for the first time, this article is sure to ignite your taste buds and inspire your culinary adventures in Oaxaca.


So, grab a fork and get ready to tantalize your senses as we embark on a journey to discover the best chilaquiles in Oaxaca. Get ready for a gastronomic adventure unlike any other!


History of Chilaquiles in Oaxaca

Chilaquiles have a rich history that dates back centuries in Mexico, and Oaxaca is no exception. While the exact origin of chilaquiles is unclear, it is believed to have originated in the pre-Hispanic era, with the Aztecs being credited for its creation.


The Aztecs, known for their advanced agricultural practices, cultivated corn as a staple crop. Corn was not only a dietary staple but also held cultural and spiritual significance. It played a central role in the Aztec cuisine, and tortillas were a common form in which corn was consumed.


Chilaquiles were born out of necessity as a way to make use of stale or leftover tortillas. Instead of letting them go to waste, the tortillas were cut into quarters, fried until crispy, and then coated with various sauces and toppings. This clever culinary creation allowed for the revitalization of the tortillas, transforming them into a delicious and satisfying dish.


Over time, chilaquiles evolved and became a popular breakfast or brunch option, known for their ability to cure even the most stubborn hangovers. They were an essential part of Mexican cuisine, and their popularity spread across the country.


In Oaxaca, chilaquiles have their unique regional variations that make them stand out. The use of locally sourced ingredients and traditional cooking techniques contribute to the distinct flavors found in Oaxacan chilaquiles.


Furthermore, Oaxaca is known for its incredible culinary diversity and cultural heritage. The cuisine heavily relies on indigenous ingredients and techniques passed down through generations. This deep-rooted culinary tradition has influenced the preparation and flavor profile of chilaquiles in Oaxaca.


Today, Oaxaca is a destination for food travelers seeking authentic and delicious chilaquiles. The city is home to numerous traditional markets, street food stalls, and high-end restaurants that serve up a wide range of chilaquiles variations. Whether you prefer them with salsa roja, mole sauce, or topped with regional ingredients like tlayudas or chapulines (grasshoppers), Oaxaca has it all.


Next, we’ll explore the factors that make Oaxacan chilaquiles truly great and discover why they are a must-try for any food enthusiast visiting the region.


Factors that Make Chilaquiles Great

What sets chilaquiles apart and makes them so irresistibly delicious? Let’s explore the factors that contribute to the greatness of this beloved Mexican dish, particularly in the vibrant culinary scene of Oaxaca.


1. Texture: Chilaquiles offer a perfect harmony of textures. The crispy tortilla chips provide a satisfying crunch, while the toppings and sauces add a velvety, creamy, or chunky element. It’s a delightful combination of textures that keeps each bite interesting and enjoyable.


2. Flavor: Chilaquiles are a flavor explosion in every mouthful. The base of fried or baked tortillas acts as a canvas for the different components that contribute to the overall taste. From tangy salsas and savory toppings to the richness of mole sauces or the complexity of regional ingredients, the flavors in chilaquiles are diverse and layered.


3. Customization: Chilaquiles are incredibly versatile, allowing for endless customization. You can customize your chilaquiles based on your preferences, dietary restrictions, or even to reflect regional or seasonal ingredients. From the choice of salsa to the selection of toppings, you have the freedom to create a unique chilaquiles experience tailored to your taste buds.


4. Breakfast (or Anytime) Comfort Food: Chilaquiles are the perfect comfort food, especially for breakfast. They provide a hearty and satisfying start to the day, with the combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats keeping you fueled for hours. Chilaquiles are also enjoyed throughout the day, whether it’s a mid-morning snack or a late-night indulgence after a night out.


5. Tradition and Heritage: Chilaquiles have deep roots in Mexican culture and heritage. They are a testament to the resourcefulness and creativity of cooks who found a delicious way to repurpose leftover tortillas. By indulging in chilaquiles, you’re not only enjoying a tasty dish, but also connecting with the rich history and culinary traditions of Mexico.


6. Sociability and Sharing: Chilaquiles are not just a dish; they are a social experience. They are often enjoyed as a communal meal, shared among friends and family. Gathering around a plate of chilaquiles creates a sense of togetherness and fosters a convivial atmosphere.


These factors, along with the passion and expertise of Oaxacan chefs, contribute to making chilaquiles a gastronomic delight. They exemplify the vibrancy and richness of Mexican cuisine, and in the unique food travel landscape of Oaxaca, they truly shine.


Now, let’s dive into the local chilaquiles scene and explore the top-rated restaurants in Oaxaca that serve up the best of the best.


Exploring the Local Chilaquiles Scene

When it comes to experiencing the local chilaquiles scene in Oaxaca, you’ll be spoiled for choice. The city is home to a wide range of eateries that specialize in this beloved Mexican dish. No matter your preference or dietary restrictions, there’s a chilaquiles spot in Oaxaca that will satisfy your cravings.


One of the best ways to explore the local chilaquiles scene is to visit the traditional markets. Mercado Benito Juárez and Mercado 20 de Noviembre are two bustling markets where you can find stalls serving up delicious homemade chilaquiles. These markets are renowned for their authentic flavors and affordable prices, making them a go-to spot for both locals and visitors.


If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, Oaxaca’s restaurants offer a variety of chilaquiles options. La Biznaga, located in the heart of the city, is known for its innovative take on traditional dishes, including their mouthwatering chilaquiles. Terra Antigua is another popular restaurant that serves up delicious chilaquiles made with locally sourced ingredients, giving them a fresh and unique twist.


For those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan-friendly option, El Jardín del Pulpo is a fantastic choice. They specialize in plant-based cuisine and offer a variety of chilaquiles options that cater to different dietary preferences. Their creative use of ingredients ensures that even non-meat eaters can enjoy the flavors and textures of traditional chilaquiles.


For a truly extraordinary chilaquiles experience, consider visiting the renowned Casa Oaxaca, a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant. Their chilaquiles are known for their artistic presentation and impeccable flavor combinations. From salsa verde with crumbled queso fresco to mole-covered chilaquiles topped with sesame seeds and diced onions, Casa Oaxaca takes chilaquiles to a whole new level.


When exploring the local chilaquiles scene, don’t forget to also venture into the smaller, off-the-beaten-path eateries and street food stalls. These hidden gems often offer authentic and unique chilaquiles variations that you won’t find in mainstream restaurants. The locals can be excellent guides, pointing you towards the best chilaquiles spots that are off the tourist radar.


Whether you choose to explore the traditional markets, dine at upscale restaurants, or savor the flavors of street food, the local chilaquiles scene in Oaxaca promises an unforgettable culinary adventure. The next section will highlight the top 5 chilaquiles restaurants in Oaxaca, revered by both locals and travelers alike.


Top 5 Chilaquiles Restaurants in Oaxaca

Oaxaca is renowned for its culinary scene, and chilaquiles are a prominent feature in many of the city’s top restaurants. If you’re looking for the best chilaquiles experience in Oaxaca, here are five restaurants that should be at the top of your list:

  1. La Popular: Located in the heart of Oaxaca’s historic center, La Popular is a cozy and vibrant restaurant known for its delicious and traditional chilaquiles. They offer a variety of mouthwatering options, from classic salsa verde to mole-covered chilaquiles topped with tender chicken or crispy pork. With its laid-back ambiance and flavorful dishes, La Popular is a must-visit for chilaquiles enthusiasts.
  2. Los Danzantes: Situated in a beautiful colonial building, Los Danzantes is not only a stunning restaurant but also a pioneer in Oaxacan cuisine. Their chilaquiles are crafted with meticulous attention to detail, using locally sourced ingredients and traditional techniques. Each bite is a burst of flavor, and their inventive combinations, such as chilaquiles with avocado cream or marinated beef, will leave you wanting more.
  3. Itanoni: If you’re a fan of traditional and authentic experiences, Itanoni is the place to go. This humble restaurant celebrates indigenous cuisine, with a menu that highlights the rich diversity of Oaxacan ingredients. Their chilaquiles are made with heirloom corn tortillas and topped with regional specialties like herb-infused black beans, locally sourced cheese, and flavorful salsas. Itanoni is a treasure trove for chilaquiles connoisseurs seeking an authentic Oaxacan experience.
  4. El Quinque: A favorite among locals and visitors alike, El Quinque is a charming restaurant nestled in the scenic neighborhood of Jalatlaco. Their chilaquiles are a delightful fusion of traditional flavors and innovative twists. From the classic red or green salsa options to more adventurous combinations like huitlacoche (corn mushroom) or shrimp, El Quinque offers a truly memorable chilaquiles experience.
  5. La Fonda de la Abuela: For a truly home-cooked feel, La Fonda de la Abuela is a hidden gem. This family-owned restaurant takes pride in serving up delectable Oaxacan comfort food, and their chilaquiles are no exception. With generous portions and flavorful salsas, their chilaquiles transport you to Grandma’s kitchen, where every bite is filled with love and authenticity.

These five restaurants represent the diverse range of chilaquiles experiences you can discover in Oaxaca. From traditional preparations to innovative twists, each establishment offers a unique take on this beloved dish. Whichever restaurant you choose, prepare yourself for a culinary adventure that showcases the best of Oaxaca’s chilaquiles.


Next, let’s delve into the world of chilaquiles recipes from local chefs, so you can try your hand at creating these delicious dishes in the comfort of your own home.


Chilaquiles Recipes from Local Chefs

If you’re feeling inspired to recreate the flavors of Oaxaca in your own kitchen, we’ve got you covered. Here are two authentic chilaquiles recipes from local chefs that will transport you straight to the culinary heart of Oaxaca:


Recipe 1: Traditional Salsa Verde Chilaquiles


– Ingredients:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa verde (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup shredded chicken or crumbled queso fresco (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

– Instructions:

  1. Cut the tortillas into quarters and fry them in oil until crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. In a separate pan, heat the salsa verde until it simmers.
  3. Add the crispy tortilla chips to the salsa verde and toss to coat evenly. Allow the chips to soften slightly in the salsa for a few minutes.
  4. Serve the chilaquiles hot, topped with your choice of shredded chicken or crumbled queso fresco.
  5. Garnish with chopped onion and fresh cilantro. Add salt to taste.

Recipe 2: Mole Chilaquiles


– Ingredients:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup mole sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

– Instructions:

  1. Follow the same steps as in Recipe 1 to fry the tortillas until crispy.
  2. In a separate pan, heat the mole sauce until it simmers.
  3. Add the crispy tortilla chips to the mole sauce and toss to coat evenly. Allow the chips to soften slightly in the sauce for a few minutes.
  4. Serve the chilaquiles hot, topped with a drizzle of Mexican crema or sour cream.
  5. Sprinkle crumbled queso fresco, chopped onion, and fresh cilantro on top. Add salt to taste.

These recipes provide a starting point for you to unleash your inner chef and experiment with different ingredients and flavors. Chilaquiles are versatile, so feel free to add your own creative touch by incorporating additional toppings such as avocado, pickled jalapenos, or even fried eggs.


With these authentic recipes, you can savor the taste of Oaxaca’s chilaquiles right at home. So put on your chef’s hat and get ready to enjoy a homemade fiesta of flavors!


Next, we’ll share some tips for making the perfect chilaquiles, so that you can take your culinary skills to the next level.


Tips for Making Perfect Chilaquiles at Home

Creating the perfect batch of chilaquiles at home may seem daunting, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this delicious dish. Here are some key tips to help you make the best chilaquiles possible:

  1. Choose the right tortillas: Opt for corn tortillas, as they hold up better when frying and provide a more authentic texture and flavor.
  2. Fry the tortillas properly: When frying the tortillas, make sure the oil is hot enough to create a crispy texture. Fry them in batches, allowing them to cook evenly without overcrowding the pan.
  3. Don’t skimp on the sauce: Whether you’re using salsa verde, mole sauce, or any other flavorful sauce, make sure to generously coat the tortilla chips. This ensures that the chilaquiles are well-flavored and moistened throughout.
  4. Soften, but don’t turn them into mush: Allow the tortilla chips to soften in the sauce for a few minutes, but be careful not to overdo it. You want the chips to retain some of their crunch, adding a pleasant contrast to the dish.
  5. Layer flavors and toppings: For optimal flavor, layer your chilaquiles with different ingredients. This can include toppings like shredded chicken, crumbled cheese, chopped onions, fresh cilantro, and a drizzle of crema or sour cream. Each bite should be a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.
  6. Experiment with ingredients: While staying true to the essence of chilaquiles, feel free to experiment with additional ingredients. Add roasted peppers for a smoky kick or incorporate unexpected toppings to create your own unique chilaquiles creation.
  7. Serve immediately: Chilaquiles are best enjoyed fresh and hot. Serve them right after assembling, allowing the flavors to meld together while the tortillas are still crispy. This ensures a delightful dining experience.

Remember, making chilaquiles at home is an opportunity to unleash your creativity and make the dish your own. Don’t be afraid to put your personal spin on it and discover new flavor combinations that delight your taste buds.


By following these tips and infusing your cooking with a passion for Mexican cuisine, you’ll be well on your way to creating chilaquiles that rival those served in the finest Oaxacan restaurants. So gather your ingredients, get cooking, and enjoy the satisfaction of savoring homemade chilaquiles!


Finally, let’s conclude our journey into the world of chilaquiles in Oaxaca, reflecting on the culinary delights and experiences we’ve explored.



Our culinary adventure through the chilaquiles scene in Oaxaca has been nothing short of delightful. From the rich history of chilaquiles to the factors that make them great, we’ve explored the unique flavors and experiences that make Oaxacan chilaquiles a must-try for food enthusiasts.


We delved into the local chilaquiles scene, uncovering traditional markets, upscale restaurants, and hidden gems that serve up delectable variations of this beloved dish. Whether you’re a fan of classic salsa verde chilaquiles or crave the complexity of mole-covered chips, Oaxaca offers an array of options to suit every palate.


We even ventured into the realm of chilaquiles recipes from local chefs, allowing us to bring the authentic tastes of Oaxaca into our own kitchens. The recipes provided a starting point for culinary exploration, encouraging us to customize our chilaquiles with regional ingredients, inventive toppings, and personal twists.


In our quest for the perfect chilaquiles, we learned valuable tips for frying tortillas, coating them with flavorful sauces, and layering toppings to create a symphony of flavors. With each bite, we savored the textures, flavors, and traditions of Oaxacan chilaquiles.


As we conclude our journey, let’s carry the spirit of chilaquiles with us, embracing the creativity, sociability, and comfort that this dish embodies. Whether enjoyed in the vibrant streets of Oaxaca or recreated in our own homes, chilaquiles connect us to the rich culinary heritage and community-driven nature of Mexican cuisine.


So, the next time you find yourself in Oaxaca or craving a taste of Mexico, seek out the chilaquiles that have captured the hearts and appetites of locals and travelers alike. Immerse yourself in the flavors, embrace the history, and savor the joy of indulging in this beloved culinary treasure!