A few weeks ago, I began to receive glowing reports from friends and readers urging me to check out a new South South Mexican breakfast called Chilakiles.
But when I asked Google to search, Google hit back.
“Did you mean: chilaquiles?” “
No! “Chilakiles” and “Chilakiles” is what I meant.
Google didn’t believe me! I say “Chilaquiles” and Google says “Chilaquiles”. Cancel it all? No, I can’t do that. It sounded too good.
So I persevered and finally succeeded, discovering in the process that there are apparently only three restaurants in the world that spell chilaquiles with that awesome K – a hip restaurant in Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya; a street food stand in Mexico City; and this sweet new restaurant in a short strip of stores on National Turnpike, just a block or two from Southside Drive.
Chilaquiles, aka chilakiles, are a classic Mexican breakfast treat: fried eggs perched on cut-up fried tortillas and topped with spicy salsas. Chilakiles, the restaurant, also has an extensive breakfast menu, though you’ll also find plenty of lunch and dinner options throughout its service hours from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. that Chilakiles apparently inherits from its predecessor in space, an all-day Latin bar called Margarita’s.
The room is quite large and striking in appearance, with bold red walls in the hue of watermelon aqua fresca. Heavy-wood tables painted in gloss black are topped with simple black and orange dining chairs, with a long bar extending around a back corner.
The breakfast and brunch menu offers 16 early starters, ranging from $ 7 (for the tortilla entomotadas topped with eggs or egg and black bean enfrijoladas) to $ 15.50 (for the Oaxaqueño steak topped with peppers and spicy onions, reflecting the roots of the owners in Oaxaca in southern Mexico).
The dinner menu includes half a dozen starters from $ 6.50 (for a vegetarian or chicken quesadilla) to $ 9 (for shrimp nachos or roasted shrimp guacamole). Ten dinner entrees range from $ 9.50 (for the enchiladas suizas) to $ 15.50 for the Oaxaqueño steak. It’s a staple throughout the day, as are a few variations on the chilaquiles. A short list of sandwiches is available throughout the day, for $ 9 (for a torta Cubana) or $ 9.50 (for a pork carnitas sandwich or a Mexican burger).
Mary and I arrived early on a Saturday afternoon and apparently missed the lunch rush which created a calm environment and gave the waiters plenty of time to practice their English on me while I practiced my Spanish on them we making everyone happy. (Rest assured the staff are bilingual, but if you habla un poco Español, now is your chance to work on it.)
We started with a few entrees and were happy with both.
Papas bravas fritas ($ 6) made a hearty opener: a tall bowl loaded with long, thick fried potatoes mixed with a spicy seco pepper and lime sauce. The sauce gave the fries an alluring sweet and sour flavor, making them so tasty that I didn’t really mind that it made them mushy as well. The Mexican queso fresco cheese mentioned on the menu seemed to be gone, but I didn’t mind as the spicy fries were perfect.
The tacos aren’t displayed on the menu but have been highlighted as a specialty on a board up front. We tried a lengua taco ($ 2.50), served in Mexican street style, with chopped raw onions, plentiful cilantro and a lime wedge on a ground beef tongue on a sweet corn tortilla. and freshly prepared. It was fine, most of the time, but the skin had been left on the meat of the tongue, an idiosyncratic treatment that diminished its texture and flavor. Next time, carnitas!
One of the dishes of the same name, the Chilakiles Suizos ($ 7.50) hit the mark. A large plate was filled with triangles of corn tortillas that had been sautéed with onions and garlic and a hot jalepeño-tomatillo sauce until tender and chewy. They were topped with crumbled queso fresco and two fried eggs on top, with slices of pickled pink onions and chopped cilantro for the garnish. That bountiful and filling breakfast can keep your weekend motor going.
Pollo rostisado ($ 14) was a simple and appealing chicken dish. A roast chicken cut in half was painted with a bright red guajillo pepper sauce that is tangy for the taste buds, but not too fiery, which paired well with the dark, pleasantly gamey meat of what appeared to be pasture chicken. It was placed on a huge ration of excellent mashed potatoes, moist and rich, and three large stalks of grilled asparagus with the stringy stems left in place.
Our hearty lunch cost a very reasonable $ 34.45, with a tip of $ 8 for our friendly and helpful waiters, who graciously managed not to laugh at my Spanish.