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A plate of chilaquiles on round vessel.
Chilaquiles are a popular breakfast item.
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Where to Eat Chilaquiles in Chicago

The traditional Mexican breakfast dish is a killer hangover cure

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Chilaquiles are a popular breakfast item.
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Whether green or red, fried, baked, soft, or crunchy, chilaquiles are one of Mexico’s favorite breakfast dishes, one that’s particularly popular for weekend brunches in Chicago. And while the plate is an everyday meal, it shouldn’t be taken for granted as ordinary.

An early 20th Century priest, scholar, and linguist, Ángel María Garibay, sheds some light on the dish’s origin: The word “chilaquiles” comes from the náhuatl “to dip in chilies.” Others reference chilies and quelites (edible herbs), plus water. These are the fundamentals along with tortillas, which are commonly cut into triangles.

Despite its name, the plate as we know it today wasn’t documented in recipe books before the 19th Century, so it is not entirely pre-Hispanic. Besides, the cream and cheese on the dish, as well as a few of the meats, speak to the clash of cultures that gave Mexico some of its most representative dishes.

From casual dinners to tornabodas (wedding afterparties), chilaquiles enjoy a reputation as an effective cure for hangovers. Regional executions use local cheeses, meats, and salsas and treat the tortilla differently to achieve the desired consistency and balance.

In Chicago, cooks work with local ingredients and cater to multiple palates. While a wide variety of salsas and presentations are readily accessible, one of the most common elements of the traditional recipe, epazote, is not easily found. The pungent edible herb has been widely used since pre-Columbian times both medicinally and in the kitchen in Mexico.

The dish often appears on menus beyond Mexican eateries in Chicago. Here’s where to find them.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kie-Gol-Lanee

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5004 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60640
(872) 241-9088
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Oaxacan-inspired Kie-Gol-Lanee’s crunchy and subtly spicy green or red chilaquiles are topped with sour cream, cotija cheese, and avocado. Eggs, chicken, chorizo, or skirt steak can be added if desired. Rice and plantains (a nod to Mexico’s southeastern cuisine) are also included. 

From time to time, chilaquiles appear among the specials. Currently, the brunch menu features a version prepared with huitlacoche sauce or mole. With a deep, earthy flavor, huitlacoche, a fungus that grows in corn, is considered a delicacy in Mexico. The plate also includes the stringy and mild queso Oaxaca and the fragrant and delicately bitter avocado leaf.

2. Tiztal Cafe

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4631 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 271-4631
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While the offerings at this breakfast and brunch destination are not strictly Mexican, a few menu highlights like chilaquiles and milkshakes undoubtedly nod to native fluency in the cuisine. Chilaquiles at Tiztal are abundant and made with green salsa and melty Chihuahua cheese. Patrons can choose to add eggs, chorizo, chicken, or beef. The plate is served with a side of baked potatoes.

3. Pancake Cafe

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3805 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 270-5301
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Pancakes are the obvious headliners at Pancake Café and Bar, and with only four Mexican-inspired items on the menu, the red chilaquiles are a pleasant surprise. The tomato-based sauce is subtly spicy, and the chips are crispy and not overly soggy. The plate is served with two eggs and sour cream on the side. 

4. Uncommon Ground - Lakeview

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3800 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 929-3680
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Uncommon Ground´s take on the dish is more of an interpretation and closer to a casserole and may not be for the purist chilaquiles superfan. The plate is abundant and a bit drier than its counterparts, with tortillas, cut into strips and mixed in with the eggs. Green salsa, melty Chihuahua cheese, chorizo, and sour cream add textures and density to the meal. There is also a vegan version with seitan chorizo and tofu. Chilaquiles are on the brunch menu, which is available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

5. El Habanero

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3300 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 227-9225
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El Habanero is known for its celebrated pambazos (a soft bread sandwich stuffed with potatoes and chorizo dunked in guajillo sauce and fried), and chef and co-owner Enrique Lara finds inspiration in the flavors of his hometown in Mexico City to bring his chilaquiles plate to life.  At first, his creations were spicier, but he has adjusted them to appeal to a broader clientele. 

The menu offers two basic choices: red or green chilaquiles, which can be ordered by themselves or with eggs (the scrambled ones are very fluffy), meat, or both. There is also a dinner option that includes rice and beans.  

Chilaquiles at this eatery are available all day long.  El Habanero is cash only, but they do accept Zelle.

6. Pan Artesanal Bakery

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3724 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(312) 286-5265
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It is no secret that Mexico City natives have a strong affinity for bolillos, a small roll with the texture of a baguette. Capitalinos (Mexican from Mexico City) find in bolillos a perfect vehicle for anything, from tamales (tamale tortas are called guajolotas) to chilaquiles and anything in between. Folklore even attributes ‘medicinal’ properties to this bread—as bolillos are considered a go-to remedy for emotional distress. 

Pan Artesanal´s chef and co-owner, Marisol Espinoza, does not serve chilaquiles in a bolillo but surprises customers by delivering red chilaquiles in a delicious croissant-like pastry that layers on a flaky, buttery texture to the spicy, crunchy tortilla chips. Pan Artesanal is currently open only on the weekends and sells out early. Customers can order at the bakery or place orders ahead of time through the Clover app.

7. Azul 18

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1236 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 285-2964
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With two eggs over tortilla chips drenched in green salsa, homemade turkey chorizo, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, and guacamole, chilaquiles are a crowd favorite at this Pilsen eatery. Another exciting version on the menu features cochinita pibil, a complex and delicious Yucatán-style pork dish traditionally cooked in a pib or earth oven (at Azul 18, cochinita is slow-roasted). Other ingredients from southeastern Mexico, like habanero and pickled onions, complete the plate. The restaurant secured its liquor license before the beginning of the pandemic, so it has gone from being a BYOB to having a bar, and, according to Azul 18´s website, they also have added a dinner menu.

8. La Catedral Cafe & Restaurant

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2500 S Christiana Ave
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 823-7546
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With its many options, this popular Little Village breakfast spot could very well be a shrine to chilaquiles. 

From the version in mole sauce to enfrijolados, a take on a dish similar to enchiladas that entails covering tortillas with a bean-based cream instead of salsa, at La Catedral, there is a choice suited for what it seems every taste and level of heat tolerance. 

According to Jalisco-born chef and owner Ambrocio González, at La Catedral, the traditional chilaquiles verdes made with a tomatillo sauce, or the very spicy a la diabla version, which adds the smokiness, and depth of chipotle chilis to the heat, are the most popular.  

Despite the recent shortage of ingredients, which has driven the team at La Catedral to look out for them constantly, Chef Ambrosio is committed to keeping the many chilaquiles on the menu and will add one more option in winter. If you can, try to visit on a weekday. Lines are out the door on weekends but worth the wait.

1. Kie-Gol-Lanee

5004 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640

Oaxacan-inspired Kie-Gol-Lanee’s crunchy and subtly spicy green or red chilaquiles are topped with sour cream, cotija cheese, and avocado. Eggs, chicken, chorizo, or skirt steak can be added if desired. Rice and plantains (a nod to Mexico’s southeastern cuisine) are also included. 

From time to time, chilaquiles appear among the specials. Currently, the brunch menu features a version prepared with huitlacoche sauce or mole. With a deep, earthy flavor, huitlacoche, a fungus that grows in corn, is considered a delicacy in Mexico. The plate also includes the stringy and mild queso Oaxaca and the fragrant and delicately bitter avocado leaf.

5004 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60640

2. Tiztal Cafe

4631 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

While the offerings at this breakfast and brunch destination are not strictly Mexican, a few menu highlights like chilaquiles and milkshakes undoubtedly nod to native fluency in the cuisine. Chilaquiles at Tiztal are abundant and made with green salsa and melty Chihuahua cheese. Patrons can choose to add eggs, chorizo, chicken, or beef. The plate is served with a side of baked potatoes.

4631 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640

3. Pancake Cafe

3805 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60613

Pancakes are the obvious headliners at Pancake Café and Bar, and with only four Mexican-inspired items on the menu, the red chilaquiles are a pleasant surprise. The tomato-based sauce is subtly spicy, and the chips are crispy and not overly soggy. The plate is served with two eggs and sour cream on the side. 

3805 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613

4. Uncommon Ground - Lakeview

3800 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613

Uncommon Ground´s take on the dish is more of an interpretation and closer to a casserole and may not be for the purist chilaquiles superfan. The plate is abundant and a bit drier than its counterparts, with tortillas, cut into strips and mixed in with the eggs. Green salsa, melty Chihuahua cheese, chorizo, and sour cream add textures and density to the meal. There is also a vegan version with seitan chorizo and tofu. Chilaquiles are on the brunch menu, which is available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

3800 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613

5. El Habanero

3300 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

El Habanero is known for its celebrated pambazos (a soft bread sandwich stuffed with potatoes and chorizo dunked in guajillo sauce and fried), and chef and co-owner Enrique Lara finds inspiration in the flavors of his hometown in Mexico City to bring his chilaquiles plate to life.  At first, his creations were spicier, but he has adjusted them to appeal to a broader clientele. 

The menu offers two basic choices: red or green chilaquiles, which can be ordered by themselves or with eggs (the scrambled ones are very fluffy), meat, or both. There is also a dinner option that includes rice and beans.  

Chilaquiles at this eatery are available all day long.  El Habanero is cash only, but they do accept Zelle.

3300 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

6. Pan Artesanal Bakery

3724 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

It is no secret that Mexico City natives have a strong affinity for bolillos, a small roll with the texture of a baguette. Capitalinos (Mexican from Mexico City) find in bolillos a perfect vehicle for anything, from tamales (tamale tortas are called guajolotas) to chilaquiles and anything in between. Folklore even attributes ‘medicinal’ properties to this bread—as bolillos are considered a go-to remedy for emotional distress. 

Pan Artesanal´s chef and co-owner, Marisol Espinoza, does not serve chilaquiles in a bolillo but surprises customers by delivering red chilaquiles in a delicious croissant-like pastry that layers on a flaky, buttery texture to the spicy, crunchy tortilla chips. Pan Artesanal is currently open only on the weekends and sells out early. Customers can order at the bakery or place orders ahead of time through the Clover app.

3724 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

7. Azul 18

1236 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

With two eggs over tortilla chips drenched in green salsa, homemade turkey chorizo, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, and guacamole, chilaquiles are a crowd favorite at this Pilsen eatery. Another exciting version on the menu features cochinita pibil, a complex and delicious Yucatán-style pork dish traditionally cooked in a pib or earth oven (at Azul 18, cochinita is slow-roasted). Other ingredients from southeastern Mexico, like habanero and pickled onions, complete the plate. The restaurant secured its liquor license before the beginning of the pandemic, so it has gone from being a BYOB to having a bar, and, according to Azul 18´s website, they also have added a dinner menu.

1236 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608

8. La Catedral Cafe & Restaurant

2500 S Christiana Ave, Chicago, IL 60623

With its many options, this popular Little Village breakfast spot could very well be a shrine to chilaquiles. 

From the version in mole sauce to enfrijolados, a take on a dish similar to enchiladas that entails covering tortillas with a bean-based cream instead of salsa, at La Catedral, there is a choice suited for what it seems every taste and level of heat tolerance. 

According to Jalisco-born chef and owner Ambrocio González, at La Catedral, the traditional chilaquiles verdes made with a tomatillo sauce, or the very spicy a la diabla version, which adds the smokiness, and depth of chipotle chilis to the heat, are the most popular.  

Despite the recent shortage of ingredients, which has driven the team at La Catedral to look out for them constantly, Chef Ambrosio is committed to keeping the many chilaquiles on the menu and will add one more option in winter. If you can, try to visit on a weekday. Lines are out the door on weekends but worth the wait.

2500 S Christiana Ave
Chicago, IL 60623

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