The first time I ever tried chilaquiles was in Sayulita, a small surfing town on Mexico's west coast. My Spanish was wobbly, so I didn't exactly know what I was getting in to when I pointed at the word on the menu, but I do know that I've been hooked on the stuff ever since. So when I heard about the late-night Chilaquiles (17.95) at Au Cheval, I knew I needed to stay up past my bedtime to see what all the fuss what about.
I have a Platonic ideal for chilaquiles, based on the plate I had in Sayulita: a mild red sauce evenly coating not-too-soggy chips, with crema fresca, raw onions, cilantro, and eggs over easy. The Au Cheval chilaquiles are not those chilaquiles.
And that's okay.
The Au Cheval chilaquiles are smartly engineered to satisfy every component of a late-night craving. For starters, there's the sheer size of the thing—a mountain of chips piled in what appears to be a cast-iron trough, easily large enough to feed four.* Then there's the almost overwhelming abundance of flavors and textures piled in said trough: large-curd scrambled eggs, crumbly queso fresco, sour cream, tart pickled red onions, sliced jalapeños, and fresh cilantro. The bottom of the dish is lined with a tangy salsa verde made with roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapeños, scallions, and onions, and a separate bowl of the salsa is also served on the side for DIY drizzling. The hardest part is trying to figure out where to stab your fork first.
No, these are not the chilaquiles I had in Mexico. Yes, they are closer to nachos than any chilaquiles I've had elsewhere. And you know what? They're incredibly satisfying anyway, Platonic ideal or not.
*Note: A smaller portion of chilaquiles ($13.95) is available for bunch, pictured.