As part of the holy trinity of Tex-Mex (the other members being tacos and fajitas), the enchilada appears in diverse forms in our city. And thanks to intense competition among Mexican restaurants, few enchilada platters are really bad and most are pretty good. Some, however, are just terrific. This list is not just about where to get good enchiladas, period, but what exactly to order. Here are my five recommendations:
5. Mushroom Enchiladas (Radical Eats). Although the fried avocado taco seems to be the favorite Tex-Mex offering on Radical Eats' inventive menu, not to be overlooked is the vegan mushroom enchiladas for their terrific texture (thank you, cashew cream) and rich, dusky flavors. Where's The Beef? Cheddar Makes Everything Better? WHO CARES?
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4. Enchiladas Poblanas (Maria Selma). Their stuffing (shredded white meat chicken and rice) is fine and good, but what makes these enchiladas truly exceptional is the slightly sweet, smoky mole sauce and nutty dusty of sesame seeds. They taste even better on Tuesday, when all enchilada plates are half-price.
3. Shrimp Enchiladas (Lost Tios). In my recent post about Los Tios' delightful summer specials what I did not mention was that there was a second act to that meal: a bountiful platter of shrimp-stuffed enchiladas blanketed in a thick cilantro cream sauce and cheese and buttressed by pico de gallo and fluffy rice. This dairy-forward dish might be overwhelming if not for the slight briney edge from the crustaceans and the accompanying crisp avocado salad. At least, I'm never overwhelmed enough to lick the platter clean.
2. Cheese Enchiladas with Eggs! (Los Dos Amigos). Numerous food critics (including Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt) have lauded Los Dos Amigos for its cheese enchiladas and I have no problem following suit. There may be nothing particularly transcendent about plain enchiladas in red sauce (though Los Dos Amigos does an outstanding take on this dish), but via the addition of two fried eggs, the platter soars to new savory heights as the yolk floods the tortillas, cheese, rice, and beans.
1. South of the Border Enchiladas (Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen) Sylvia's "South of the Border" enchiladas plate is a four-stop culinary journey that begins with one "Mexico City" enchilada stuffed with chicken and topped with green salsa. From there, your fork proceeds on to the more piquant "Morelia" enchilada (queso fresco and onions in a spicy red chili gravy), then the "Hidalgo" enchilada (tender carnitas in red or green sauce garnished with avocado). Last point on the itinerary is the "Puebla" enchilada (chicken dressed in an earthy mole poblano sauce)--assuming, of course, you're consuming each enchilada in its entirety before moving on to the next. Switching back and forth is perfectly acceptable, too, but beforewarned the delicate, subtle flavors of the four different sauces and fillings are best appreciated one by one.