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Susannah Chen

The 12 Sauciest Chilaquiles in San Francisco

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Sure, San Francisco may be famous for its Mission burritos and for its abundance of good street tacos. But there’s another sleeper hit in town: chilaquiles, that traditional Mexican breakfast dish of tortillas fried until crisp, simmered in sauce and topped with everything from the salsa bar. In the past couple of years, chilaquiles (in colloquial Spanish, “broken-up old sombrero”) have become something of a cult favorite in this city, with restaurants both old and new making it permanent on their menus. Below are a dozen must-try versions around town.

Note: Listings are organized alphabetically, not geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Arguello Restaurant

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The weekend brunch menu at Arguello, Traci Des Jardins’ laid-back spot in the Presidio, features chilaquiles that are made with a smoky, sweet and spicy salsa negra and topped with a fried farm egg; pop the yolk and mix it with the accompanying crema to make an ultra-luxurious sauce. On a sunny Saturday, enjoy a pile of these chips patio-side for an especially triumphant start to the weekend.

At $22, Cala’s chilaquiles are the most expensive you’ll ever eat. But this dish, which is only available during Sunday brunch service, is worth trying nonetheless—especially when you get to enjoy them in Gabriela Cámara’s worldly environs. It’s not much more than delicate totopos, shredded chicken, verde salsa, and a sunny-side-up egg garnished with cilantro and crema, but like the restaurant itself, the dish feels elevated in an understated way.

Susannah Chen

El Buen Comer

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Head to El Buen Comer, La Cocina alum Isabel Caudillo’s Bernal Heights spot, for the Mexico City native’s take on home-style Mexican food. There, you can order chicken- or egg-topped chilaquiles made with crispy corn tortillas that are pressed there by hand and smothered in your choice of either red chile de árbol tomato sauce or green tomatillo salsa. 

Susannah Chen

Ella’s has been a longtime standby for nostalgic favorites like chicken hash and sticky buns, but recently they added chilaquiles to the menu, and they’re a hit—so much so that you can now get them at breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. Expect a contemporary version that’s coated lightly in a tomatillo sauce with pulled pork, a fried egg, crema, and shredded cheese. 

Gallardo's

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For saucy chips with a side of old-school Mission, head to Gallardo’s, a family operation on a less-trafficked corner of Folsom Street.  Enjoy a platter of classic chilaquiles—tortilla bits simmered in a mild red sauce with onions, tomatoes, pepper, and cheese, and a side of rice, beans and tortillas—alongside both the new and the longtime residents of the neighborhood.

Susannah Chen

Gracias Madre

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Chilaquiles, it turns out, taste great even when they don’t contain any meat, eggs, or dairy. Whether you’re herbivorous or simply in the mood to eat plant-based, you’ll find an excellent pile of sauced chips on the brunch menu (served weekends from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) True to Gracias fashion, the tortillas are handmade, non-GMO, organic, and fried in rice bran oil before being tossed with a roasted red tomato salsa, onions, cilantro, radishes, and a cashew-based “cheese” that you’ll want to slather all over everything, including the accompanying refried black beans.

Nopalito

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Like just about everything at Nopalito, the chilaquiles are solid. Chef Gonzalo Guzmán’s negros version involves fried tortilla pieces, scrambled eggs, and chicken coated in a dark pasilla and chipotle chile sauce. The whole thing is served hot in a cazuela with a topcoat of crema and queso fresco and garnished with a heavy sprinkling of scallions. It’s available at Nopalito’s Inner Sunset location, too. 

Padrecito

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Padrecito’s fruit- and flower-garnished pancakes may get all the ’grams, but it’s the weekend brunch chilaquiles that we come here for.  Braised pork belly, Brussels sprouts and salsa amarilla add layers of flavor and complexity, and soft-scrambled eggs give this dish a uniquely velvety texture. (A note for obsessives: There are two other versions on Padrecito’s dinner menu.)

Primavera

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These are the holy grail of chilaquiles—brave the line at the back of the Saturday Ferry Building farmers market, and you’ll find out why. The reward is a heaving paper plate of creamy soft-scrambled eggs (organic and local, of course), deeply savory refried pinto beans, and mess of chilaquiles. The chilaquiles themselves vary from week to week: sometimes it’s the milder tomato-chipotle El Cardenal; it might be the spicier Merida; on occasion it’s a green version with tomatillos. Regardless, the chips are always well-coated and tender on the outside, still crispy on the inside, and showered with cotija, cilantro, white onion, avocado and sour cream. Little-known secret: If you just want a taste, you can also request a half order.

San Jalisco

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Whether you feel the itch for chilaquiles at 8 a.m. or 9:30 p.m., this Van Ness eatery will be there for you, and with three different options to boot. The regular plate is a go-to at under $10, but there’s also the Chilaquiles Remo, which comes with sautéed chicken, and the less-common Chilaquiles Veronica with chorizo, vinegary nopales (prickly pear cactus pads) and fresh Mexican-style sour cream. 

Susannah Chen

Tacolicious

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Head to Tacolicious around opening and half the time you’ll see the La Palma delivery guy dropping off tortillas, which is how you know your chilaquiles are going to be fresh. Those tortillas are made into chips that are given a heavy coat of chile de árbol and tomato salsa before being showered with avocado, radish slices, melted Oaxaca cheese and two over-easy eggs. If you’re hungover, add carnitas to make it the most gut-busting version on this list, then wash it all down with a horchata cold-brew coffee.

Susannah Chen

The Little Chihuahua

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The Little Chihuahua gets lots of local love for its fried plantain and black bean burritos, but the chilaquiles here are just as good, and unlike a lot of other spots, they come with two eggs cooked any way you like ‘em. The sauce, a smoky chile cream sauce, is richer than most, so expect a food coma to creep in after your meal.

Susannah Chen

Arguello Restaurant

The weekend brunch menu at Arguello, Traci Des Jardins’ laid-back spot in the Presidio, features chilaquiles that are made with a smoky, sweet and spicy salsa negra and topped with a fried farm egg; pop the yolk and mix it with the accompanying crema to make an ultra-luxurious sauce. On a sunny Saturday, enjoy a pile of these chips patio-side for an especially triumphant start to the weekend.

Cala

Susannah Chen

At $22, Cala’s chilaquiles are the most expensive you’ll ever eat. But this dish, which is only available during Sunday brunch service, is worth trying nonetheless—especially when you get to enjoy them in Gabriela Cámara’s worldly environs. It’s not much more than delicate totopos, shredded chicken, verde salsa, and a sunny-side-up egg garnished with cilantro and crema, but like the restaurant itself, the dish feels elevated in an understated way.

Susannah Chen

El Buen Comer

Susannah Chen

Head to El Buen Comer, La Cocina alum Isabel Caudillo’s Bernal Heights spot, for the Mexico City native’s take on home-style Mexican food. There, you can order chicken- or egg-topped chilaquiles made with crispy corn tortillas that are pressed there by hand and smothered in your choice of either red chile de árbol tomato sauce or green tomatillo salsa. 

Susannah Chen

Ella's

Ella’s has been a longtime standby for nostalgic favorites like chicken hash and sticky buns, but recently they added chilaquiles to the menu, and they’re a hit—so much so that you can now get them at breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. Expect a contemporary version that’s coated lightly in a tomatillo sauce with pulled pork, a fried egg, crema, and shredded cheese. 

Gallardo's

Susannah Chen

For saucy chips with a side of old-school Mission, head to Gallardo’s, a family operation on a less-trafficked corner of Folsom Street.  Enjoy a platter of classic chilaquiles—tortilla bits simmered in a mild red sauce with onions, tomatoes, pepper, and cheese, and a side of rice, beans and tortillas—alongside both the new and the longtime residents of the neighborhood.

Susannah Chen

Gracias Madre

Chilaquiles, it turns out, taste great even when they don’t contain any meat, eggs, or dairy. Whether you’re herbivorous or simply in the mood to eat plant-based, you’ll find an excellent pile of sauced chips on the brunch menu (served weekends from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) True to Gracias fashion, the tortillas are handmade, non-GMO, organic, and fried in rice bran oil before being tossed with a roasted red tomato salsa, onions, cilantro, radishes, and a cashew-based “cheese” that you’ll want to slather all over everything, including the accompanying refried black beans.

Nopalito

Like just about everything at Nopalito, the chilaquiles are solid. Chef Gonzalo Guzmán’s negros version involves fried tortilla pieces, scrambled eggs, and chicken coated in a dark pasilla and chipotle chile sauce. The whole thing is served hot in a cazuela with a topcoat of crema and queso fresco and garnished with a heavy sprinkling of scallions. It’s available at Nopalito’s Inner Sunset location, too. 

Padrecito

Padrecito’s fruit- and flower-garnished pancakes may get all the ’grams, but it’s the weekend brunch chilaquiles that we come here for.  Braised pork belly, Brussels sprouts and salsa amarilla add layers of flavor and complexity, and soft-scrambled eggs give this dish a uniquely velvety texture. (A note for obsessives: There are two other versions on Padrecito’s dinner menu.)

Primavera

These are the holy grail of chilaquiles—brave the line at the back of the Saturday Ferry Building farmers market, and you’ll find out why. The reward is a heaving paper plate of creamy soft-scrambled eggs (organic and local, of course), deeply savory refried pinto beans, and mess of chilaquiles. The chilaquiles themselves vary from week to week: sometimes it’s the milder tomato-chipotle El Cardenal; it might be the spicier Merida; on occasion it’s a green version with tomatillos. Regardless, the chips are always well-coated and tender on the outside, still crispy on the inside, and showered with cotija, cilantro, white onion, avocado and sour cream. Little-known secret: If you just want a taste, you can also request a half order.

San Jalisco

Susannah Chen

Whether you feel the itch for chilaquiles at 8 a.m. or 9:30 p.m., this Van Ness eatery will be there for you, and with three different options to boot. The regular plate is a go-to at under $10, but there’s also the Chilaquiles Remo, which comes with sautéed chicken, and the less-common Chilaquiles Veronica with chorizo, vinegary nopales (prickly pear cactus pads) and fresh Mexican-style sour cream. 

Susannah Chen

Tacolicious

Susannah Chen

Head to Tacolicious around opening and half the time you’ll see the La Palma delivery guy dropping off tortillas, which is how you know your chilaquiles are going to be fresh. Those tortillas are made into chips that are given a heavy coat of chile de árbol and tomato salsa before being showered with avocado, radish slices, melted Oaxaca cheese and two over-easy eggs. If you’re hungover, add carnitas to make it the most gut-busting version on this list, then wash it all down with a horchata cold-brew coffee.

Susannah Chen

The Little Chihuahua

Susannah Chen

The Little Chihuahua gets lots of local love for its fried plantain and black bean burritos, but the chilaquiles here are just as good, and unlike a lot of other spots, they come with two eggs cooked any way you like ‘em. The sauce, a smoky chile cream sauce, is richer than most, so expect a food coma to creep in after your meal.

Susannah Chen

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