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Chilaquiles - SF Dish of the Month (Feb 2013)

It was a close vote between pho and chilaquiles, but chilaquiles won out in the end! Here's a link to the vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/888174

The goal of Dish of the Month is to collectively try as many versions of chilaquiles as possible during the month of Feburary! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

If you're unfamiliar with the dish, then you can check out the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilaquiles), and also search Chowhound for references and past reports, not to mention this detailed discussion about the origins/definitions of the dish: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/294038

For those who regularly eat chilaquiles, hopefully this project can lead to a new favorite rendition, and for those who have never tried chilaquiles before, hopefully this will be an excuse to go out and try them!

Dave MP

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  1. El Molino Central (Sonoma)

    No, I haven't had their chilaquiles yet this February, but I've had them before and want to encourage others to have them there. I found them as excellent and special as their other items, which is "way up there". I've also not had chilaquiles anywhere else and would like to hear how others more familiar with this dish feel that the El Molino Central version compares.

    Photo of El Molino Central Chilaquiles w/ Early Girl tomato & chipotle salsa and scrambled Field of Greens eggs


    8 Replies
    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

      I will third the chilaquiles at El Molino. Just a warning that they are only available until 11:00 am (and nothing else is available until after 11:00). So everyone in the group needs to want to eat chilaquiles, not a problem for me or my husband.

      Also have great coffee, for a splurge, try the iced New Orleans style coffee.

      Very different, but also good are the chilaquiles at Jeffrey's Hillside in Santa Rosa. Verde rather than rojo.

      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

        In case anyone not up for the drive north doesn't know: Primavera is at the Ferry Building on Saturday mornings, and serves an effectively identical dish. Both business are run by Karen Waikiki. I've had both on a number of occasions and ... the differences are marginal at best.

        If you're lucky enough to come across chilaquiles verdes at Primavera for the LOVE OF GOD do not put salsa rojo all over it. Please. I'm begging you.

        1. re: jpancake

          Headed over in an hour. The version there looks like the chips are crispy and not soft by yelp photos. Are they indeed crispy? I think I prefer the cooked until soft version.

          1. re: Porthos

            My friends in Guadalajara say soft chilaquiles have just been sitting around too long, they insist on theirs being cooked to order.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Probably. I feel they have more flavor since they soak up more of the sauce. Just my preference.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Been doing some extra reading. Are you sure there aren't regional variations of this dish and that maybe the ones in salsa verde are sometimes cooked until soft depending on region and preference?

                There are recipes online that call for cooking until soft. I don't know enough about regional Mexican cuisine to know which part of Mexico this recipe is from.


                "Pour the salsa verde into a wide pot or pan and place over medium heat. Just when it starts to bubble, stir in the beaten eggs. Cook and stir for about 5 seconds until the egg feathers into the sauce to thicken and bind.

                Immediately add the chips, tossing gently until they have absorbed enough sauce and become soft. "

                1. re: Porthos

                  "As the saying goes, there are as many recipes for chilaquiles as there are cooks. Nothing is wasted in the Mexican home, so this dish was born as a clever way to revive yesterday's tortillas and leftover salsa."

                  1. re: Porthos

                    They're supposed to be slightly softened but still with some crunch.

                    At the Guadalajara market stalls, they make a big batch and keep them hot. If you get them freshly made, they have some crunch. After they've been sitting around for a while, they're mush. It's not a different regional variation, it's just sloppy.

                    In Mexico, you're also more likely to get sick from stuff that's been sitting around.

          2. Melanie's link is inspiring:

            Another stop at El Molino Central sets the bar high; I love it!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cynsa

              Following Melanie's link to Santa Rosa at Las Palmas, the chilaquiles come with egg or meat. With lengua, soft and tender, it melts on my tongue; spicy red sauce laps the crisp tortillas; rice and beans make a hearty breakfast for $8.75. Good Value.
              415 Santa Rosa Avenue/Santa Rosa/Sonoma County

            2. Had the Chilaquiles at Primavera.

              Pretty good. I think I like it cooked in chile verde more and the tortilla a bit softer. The refried beans are excellent. The lard really comes through.

              1. Chilaquiles at El Huarache Loco (Larkspur) come topped with 2 eggs. Get 'em overy easy and while that's being prepared, waltz over to the salsa bar and stock up. This is a giant platter of chilaquiles and the addition of your choice of salsas sets it off perfectly. Break those yolks, pour on that sauce, and enjoy. This is one truly delicious (and large) platter of food.

                16 Replies
                1. re: tayres

                  Their online menu says "and choice of topping". Do you think adding a meat topping adds or detracts from the experience of chilaquiles ?

                  Also want to clarify that El Huarache Loco is in Larkspur Landing, not in downtown Larkspur. I've had several very good lunches there, but not the chilaquiles. It's time to try that.


                  1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                    If I'd have added a meat topping I'm pretty sure I'd have had to be rolled out of there in a wheelbarrow. I think a meat topping is completely unnecessary on chilaquiles. I even think scrambled eggs are unnecessary. Fried eggs with runny yolks though? That's another story.

                    El Huarache Loco is in Larkspur Landing, in what's now being called the "Marin Country Mart". They began as a stand at the Alemany Farmer's Market in SF and are now a brick and mortar resto. Enjoy.

                    1. re: tayres

                      My standard for chilaquiles in Mexico City has salsa verde, chicken, and no eggs. The chicken is cooked in the layers, not thrown on top.

                      SF restaurants tend to make them in a fry pan with eggs because that's easier to do. My preferred version is more like a lasagna or bread pudding, cooked in an oven. They're easy to make at home, and the tortillas are a mix of soft and crispy.

                      1. re: Windy

                        Windy, you and I have the same taste in c'quiles, as previously noted. My ideal comes from eating chilaquiles verdes con pollo on a long-ago, three-month-long trip across Mexico with the parentals. I was so picky, it was the *only* thing I would eat. Just lucky it was so readily available and at all times, though it was considered to be a breakfast dish. In most every case, it was cooked as you describe and served in an ovenproof dish, layered. I did not eat it with eggs, as eggs were "evil" in my younger self's book, and it had to be green sauce, not red, stale tortillas deep fried in strips, not chips.

                        Notwithstanding nostalgia, this thread is killing me as we have NO chilaquiles in Vancouver and I won't be in SF again till late spring.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          Don't you have old tortillas in Vancouver?

                          D Kennedy writes: "As complicated and delightful as the name sounds, it is simply a way of using up old tortillas."

                          "There is no hard and fast rule about ingredients. Use up whatever you have handy."

                          The Tortilla Book

                          1. re: paulj

                            Sorry, I should have said no restos that serve chilaquiles. I have been known to make them myself out of desperation :-).

                            1. re: grayelf

                              Mine came out pretty decently when I've made them myself--more often since Pastores closed. I hate throwing fried tortillas in a casserole and layering with cream but they're awfully good.

                              Lately I've given in on eggs and make a soft scramble with lots of vegetables and leftover blue corn tortillas. Not the same though.

                        2. re: Windy

                          At San Jalisco - 901 South Van Ness at 20th Street/San Francisco: Chilaquiles Remo is layered with egg, chicken, onions, red sauce, soft tortillas and cheese $9.95 plated with rice, beans and sour cream. Best tasting red sauce here, smoothly rich with a long-cooked flavor.
                          I've enjoyed this restaurant as Los Jarritos and now as San Jalisco. Service is friendly and attentive; food is delicious. Portions are generous; my DH finished his Huevos con Chorizo and then rescued me by finishing the rest of my chilaquiles.

                          1. re: Cynsa

                            yo C-
                            Los Jarritos changed...?! I guess it's been a while since I've gone there. Is it as good as before it became San Jalisco?

                            1. re: escargot3

                              absolutely! It's the same wonderful Reyes family, nothing changed except the 'name'.


                            2. re: Cynsa

                              Thanks for the recommendation! The space and service were great.

                              As for the food, San Jalisco has the tortillas-scrambled-with-eggs variety of chilaquiles on the menu. The chilaquiles Veronica has eggs, red salsa, onions, nopales, and chorizo and is topped with crema and a crumbled cheese. Nice porky flavor, either from the chorizo or from lard, and just enough eggs that you might not even notice their presence. The triangular chips softened during the meal, but stayed tasty throughout. The salsa is mild, so I'd probably request it hot next time.

                              There's also a version with a side of thick or thin steak.

                              We had some good birria too--- they give a generous portion of goat.

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                I'm chiming in a little late for dish of the month, but thought that this was still the best forum to comment on Chilaquiles at San Jalisco. I had the regular Chilaquiles today, with scrambled eggs (would not have known they were there, but for the menu description), onions, peppers, and red sauce. I liked the flavor and the contrast between crispy and chips softened by the salsa and other ingredients they are scrambled with. My one complaint was that I found the dish a little too salty, not so much in terms of flavor, but in the feeling one has after eating such a meal. The salsa served with the chips was too salty for me. My DH enjoyed his huevos divorceados, served with chile verde and chile colorado, including large pieces of very tender pork covered with each of the two sauces, but also found his dish a bit too salty. The fresh homemade tortillas were delicious.

                              2. re: Windy

                                yes, my standard also, though I am fine without the chicken. And eggs over easy on the side are nice at breakfast, but I don't think of them as a part of the dish. From my point of view, some of the dishes that get called 'chilaquiles' should really be called 'breakfast nachos'.

                              3. re: tayres

                                +1= meat is totally unnecessary. Fried egg on top is heaven.

                            3. re: tayres

                              I had chilaquiles at El Huarache Loco this morning. I thought they were as good as tayres said. His description is correct; their website menu is a bit out of date. The high quality of the ingredients waa evident. The tortilla wedges started out a bit crisp yet tender and moved toward soft as minutes went by. It was really excellent. Compared to El Molino Central? They're different animals, different versions of this item for which there must be hundreds of versions. I'm not going to try to say which is best. They're very different and both are excellent.

                              This is a photo album of my chilaquiles experiences.


                              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                Beautiful photos. I'm glad you enjoyed the El Huarache Loco chilaquiles. The plate they served them on makes them look even more lovely.

                            4. Never had them before, so I went over to La Mission Taqueria in Berkeley to try theirs.

                              They were nothing like the ones in the photos referenced here. This version seemed to be just eggs scrambled with a bunch of tortilla chips in red sauce with a little queso on top. Perfectly acceptable, nothing really special.

                              La Mission only serves egg dishes before noon on weekdays and 1:00 on weekends. It's a tiny place with only seven indoor tables, but on warmer days the terrace is pleasant, even with the University Boulevard traffic.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                Went to Tres Hermanas in Richmond this Saturday. Their chiliquiles is still delicous, surprising for such a simple dish - scrambled eggs with homemade tortilla chips, red sauce, onions, cheese.

                              2. Since the closure of El Delfin on 24th Street, my go-to breakfast spot for chilaquiles is Red Cafe. This $8.59 breakfast has diced green pepper, green onion and tomato mixed with the fried tortilla chips/egg and comes with sour cream, salsa verde, and a puree of beans. It satisfies a fix for a simple quick and fresh breakfast.
                                Red Cafe
                                2894 Mission Street at 25th Street/San Francisco

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Cynsa

                                  Driving on 24th Street this morning, we see that El Delfin is not closed; opens at 10 am today.

                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                    Wewh! Although I haven't been in years, El Defin closing shop would be a shame.

                                2. I had the chilaquiles at El Molino Central today and while I enjoyed the flavor of the dish, it was difficult to stomach the price...$10.50! Add a cup of Blue Bottle coffee, tax and a modest buck in the tip jar and we're talking $15.00!

                                  My introduction to chilaquiles was in Mexico, many years ago and the fried tortilla strips were almost always mixed together with the scrambled eggs. The tortilla pieces were a combination of soft and crunchy. Once I mixed El Molino's creation together, it came pretty close.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Jim

                                    I live here in Sonoma, and I have to say that $15 is pretty standard for breakfast at all my favorite places.

                                    To defend the El Molino prices, just look at the quality of the ingredients and the amount of labor in every dish they make. Pasture eggs, tortillas that start with sacks of organic corn (that has to be slaked with lime, ground, and made into tortillas by hand), Rancho Gordo beans, Blue Bottle coffee beans, farm market tomatoes, etc.

                                    For my dollar, it is great value if you look at the quality.

                                  2. Went to Casa Jimenez in Oakland in an attempt to have the chilaquiles, which my wife had declared delicious.

                                    Faced with the best carnitas in town and, indeed,the best carnitas I have ever had, I quailed under pressure. I ordered the carnitas.

                                    I was happy. Go to Casa Jimenez, order the carnitas- you can be happy, too. $2.99 racer 5 on draft.

                                    My wife's chilaquiles rojos looked very good- the eggs were cooked into the tortilla/sauce mixture as described above. Chicken was available as an add-on for $1.

                                    She was happy, too.

                                    1. Went to Chez Shea in Half Moon Bay today for chilaquiles. Their version is a little up-dated, but always well prepared and delicious.

                                      Rice and black beans make a base on the plate then the perfect consistency of crispy/chewy chips in sauce on top of that. You have a choice of green or red sauce, eggs or chicken. I had the green sauce, which is a little bit spicy, with two fried eggs on top. SO had the red sauce with shredded chicken mixed in. A drizzle of crema and sprinkle of cheese over the top makes for a nice plate. $10.95/11.95 with chicken.

                                      Chez Shea has a wide ranging menu, but the chef/owner is from Mexico, so any of the Mexican dishes on the menu are a good bet. They have a rotisserie, so any dishes with chicken are also a good way to go.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: pamf

                                        Green sauce and chicken--might need to take a drive. Are they only served for breakfast or throughout the day?

                                        1. re: Windy

                                          it's on their brunch & lunch menus. weekend brunch goes to 5pm

                                          Chez Shea
                                          408 Main Street
                                          Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                                      2. Been wanting to try Cafe Q in Alameda, and when I saw they had chilaquiles for brunch I had to order them.

                                        Described on the menu as: Chilaquiles Rojos ($11.00)
                                        queso fresco, cilantro, onion, red salsa over housemade chips, I was a little bemused by the failure to mention egg. Turns out Instead of being mixed into the sauce, the eggs were scrambled and placed on to of the chips, and the plate was sprinkled with fresh chopped onions, etc. The tortilla chips had been heated in a medium spicey red sauce such that some of the chips were soft and some were still crunchy, which is exactly the way I like it. I think cooking it separately from the eggs means they don't heat it as long and the chips maintain more of their individual integrity.

                                        $11 seems like a lot for such a humble dish, but given the quality of the ingredients (local organic eggs, and more egg than there would be in more traditional chilaquiles), not outrageous.

                                        Somehow in the year it's been open I'd never made it to Cafe Q -- maybe because even though it's walking distance from my house, I'd have to walk past at least two dozen other restaurants on the way. However, it's a pretty (if casual) little cafe, I really liked the vibe, and I'm going to try to make it back for dinner before another year passes.

                                        1. In case anyone is interested (and it passes the powers that be), I was in Palm Springs for a few days and had Chilaquiles at Cheeky's.


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                            Oh, those are good-- I had them this month too. We got them as takeout, and although they got a bit soggy by the time we hit Death Valley, still very good!

                                            This morning I tried the chilaquiles with asada at La Torta Gorda. It was more of a mixed plate than chilaquiles as I've had them before. There were three slices of pounded grilled beef, three eggs (I had them sunny side up), and tortilla chips coated in green salsa (red available too) and topped with avocado slices. I didn't see them frying up the chips, so it's possible they were just mixed together... It certainly seemed that way. All the pieces tasted good together, but I prefer crispy chips coated in a sauce that sticks to them.

                                          2. Sometimes I go so long without a bad restaurant meal I wonder if I've stopped being able to recognize bad food. And then there comes a meal that makes me realize I've just gotten better at picking restaurants.

                                            Anyway, after my haircut today I decided to check out the chilaquiles at the Mexican restaurant across the street. I'd eaten there many years ago and hadn't been impressed, but I decided to give them another shot with the dish of the month.

                                            First, it was one of the most unappetizing plates I've seen in a long time -- a mess of yellow-beige studded with weird-textured lumps. Okay, but maybe it tastes good. Nope. Actually, it didn't taste bad, it just didn't taste like much at all. Accompanied by undistinguished rice and beans, for $10.25 it made the $11, infinitely better, version at Cafe Q around the corner seem like a bargain. To top off the bad experience, I had to send the pineapple juice back because it had started to ferment.

                                            Juanita's on Park St. in Alameda gets a big "AVOID"!!! It's not just gringoized Mexican food, it's BAD gringoized Mexican food!

                                            1. A mediocre version to report at Chavez Supermarket in Hayward (1157 W Tennyson Rd) that I tried last weekend.

                                              Crispy chips sauteed with red sauce scrambling in an egg, no added onions. When asked if I wanted meat, I opted for carne asada thinking it was better suited for the salsa roja than the al pastor that Chavez is known for. Bad call, the meat was dried out, tough and inedible . . . and I paid an extra $2.50 for the privilege bringing the price up to $7.49.

                                              The whole thing's topped with some pre-shredded dried out jack cheese and crema, and served with rice and beans on the side. So flavorless but for the dairy, I went back through the line to ask for some pico de gallo on top. I opted for whole beans, which were fine, but the rice was much too soft.

                                              While the chilaquiles were a total bust, Mom's taco de pescado, $2.49, was okay. Just ok, not good or great.

                                              * * * * * *

                                              Any San Franciscans tried the chilaquiles listed in Grubstreet's report last month?

                                              1. From Create TV this evening, Pati's Green Chilaquiles in roasted tomatillo sauce


                                                She adds the tortillas to the hot sauce, stirs just enough to coat, and then fishes them out. On the serving platter they are topped with crumbled cheese, sliced onion, and creama.

                                                1. Tortas Boos Voni has very good chilaquiles. You can have them served with red or green salsa and side of either eggs or grilled beef. I got the red salsa with beef-- this was a completely eggless dish.

                                                  The server warned me that the red sauce would be hot, and she wasn't kidding--- it's made of grilled arbol chilies and required three napkins to contain my tears. The delicious sauce was mixed with grilled onions and 1/4" fried tortilla strips, and topped with crema and cheese. The tortilla strips are stale, which allows the salsa to full permeate the outside layer of each strip while keeping it crispy. They were a tad bit too stale actually, as were the ones put out to eat with salsa, but enjoyable nonetheless.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                                    Thanks for the tip. I have been there a few times, but only for the tortas.

                                                  2. I had chilaquiles rojos at Cosecha in Oakland (10:30-2:30 Saturdays) yesterday. Most often, chilaquiles are a dish I cook at home to use up stale tortillas from that bag of three dozen bought from Mi Pueblo. These chilaquiles were good enough to get me craving them even when I don't have excess tortillas.

                                                    A generous amount of Cosecha's toothsome handmade tortillas were fried until crisp and then sauteed in a delicious sauce redolent of red chile and not suffering from the underseasoning/spicing which has kept me from truly loving Cosecha in the past. Some of the tortilla wedges were soaked in the sauce and pliant; others were a bit crispier and wanted to be dragged through the sauce, making for an interesting variety of textures.

                                                    The scrambled eggs on top were as light, fluffy and delicious as one could expect atop chilaquiles. The sliced quarter avocado on the side was a nice touch, and the frijoles de olla alongside were delicious.

                                                    Now I don't have any tortillas and see they're on the menu at Nido...

                                                    I can't recommend the chilaquiles at the original Otaez- inexplicably, there were large chunks of unwanted bell pepper mixed in, and the add-on chicken consisted of two breast chunks.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Pius Avocado III

                                                      I've had good and bad chilaquiles at Otaez -- very inconsistent, as if whoever is cooking your order cooks it his own way. That's actually a problem I've had with them: I've ordered dishes I've enjoyed and received something quite different.

                                                    2. Went to Nido this morning and had the chilaquiles, which were very similar to Cosecha's (I think the chef/owner used to work there), right down to the fanned avocado presentation. These had a welcomed swirl of crema on top. I asked for scrambled rather than poached eggs and got perfectly fluffy eggs. The beans were a notch better than Cosecha and these guys are open Sunday, so my weekend chilaquiles calendar is now filled. The full bar and inventive cocktails certainly don't hurt.

                                                      My companion's cemita with ham and scrambled eggs a la mexicana was the best thing I've eaten in a long time- for a few bites, after which the superabundance of filling took its toll on the sesame-studded roll. Still, worth going back for.

                                                      1. I am no longer a chilaquiiles virgin thanks to you Chowhounders and El Paisano Taquaria y Mercado in RWC. I obviously can't speak to its authenticity, but I enjoyed 'em.

                                                        The owner asked if I wanted the red or green sauce, and if I wanted the eggs inside or on top. I also asked for some carne asada which he had to get from the meat counter. He warned that it would be about ten minutes as everything needed to be made fresh. The house made tortillas that made up the chilaquiles were mostly soft but had some crunchy bits to them. I would definitely order the dish again, but with two fried eggs, two healthy slices of carne asada, rice & beans, and and a large portion of spicy chilaquiles, I can't imagine it actually being breakfast food!

                                                        I also asked if folks order it often and he said there are some regulars from the nearby bank that come in and order it for lunch quite often.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Civil Bear

                                                          Tried the chilaquiiles at El Palmar in Novato. Their version came with scrambled eggs mixed in and too much sour cream on top. Also the sauce/salsa wasn't as good as at El Paisano Taquaria y Mercado in RWC, which is what I think really makes the dish. About $8. Meat extra.

                                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                                            Tried the chiliquiles at El Tonayense behind the car wash off of Bayshore in SF (thank you again Chowhound for turning me on to this dish). Actually ordered the "Chiliquiles El Tonayense" which came with grilled chicken. Saucy and cheesy. The spicy sauce, gooey melted cheese and tasty chicken were great, but didn't find any eggs and all the tortilla chips where soft from all the sauce.

                                                            Tasty, but I am still looking for a version that will beat my first (from El Paisano Taquaria y Mercado in RWC).

                                                        2. came across Chilaquiles @Jalepeno Grill, 115 Hartz Ave, danville, ca. all entrees around 8.

                                                          chilaquiles was fried tortilla chips covered with a red sauce, some queso cheese was sprinkled on top of it. crema (sour cream) was on the side. the offered scrambled eggs nowhere to be seen. no refried beans either, meat was extra.

                                                          fresh tortilla chips with quac provided.
                                                          tasted ok but wouldn't order this here again.

                                                          1. chilaquiles in tomato & chioptle sauce @ Molcajete cocina Mexcana (1734 webster st. oakland) was a smash

                                                            weekend special @6.75 beats the regular price of 10.50

                                                            dish had 2 nicely fried eggs on top. daily fried tortilla chips on the bottom with the mix of onions, cilantro, cotiga cheese

                                                            a salsa with black beans et al. was a nice touch. everything was fresh. place is small. service slow with only one server working.

                                                            1. So many versions. My personal favorite is to fry my leftover tortillas crisp... very crisp. Add onions early and whatever peppers i have on hand. Then pour on red or green el pato or my own leftover sauce. Simmer, add cheese on top. Sunny side eggs and crema. So good. Totally not fancy but its about using up your leftovers for me.

                                                              1. Pine Cone Diner in Point Reyes Station has chilaquiles that taste great, but seem closer in preparation to nachos. Red salsa coats each chip, which is fried up with eggs and then topped with lettuce, tomato, a melty cheese, and sour cream. Lettuce keeps things crisp as time passes by and the chips get soft, but still a bit crunchy.

                                                                1. Just had a version at Tacolicious' brunch that were, predictably, not very authentic nor particularly good. Seemed like they just took the chips they normally start you out with for free and poured some cheese on top and a spoonful of beans and rice on each side.

                                                                  1. Totally past the DOTM deadline, but had to mention the chilaquiles at Southey in Rockridge I had last weekend. One of the best non-baked versions I've had -- excellent salsa verde, quality totopos, porky-tasting refritos negros and fresh avocado. Only slight quibble was the fry on the egg whites was a bit hard for me but I am squeamish about egg whites. Yolks were perfectly oozy.