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Fried tortillas, stuffed and sauced: enchiladas are simple in concept, but they come in a seemingly endless variety, depending on region and ingredients. The tortillas might be made of corn or wheat flour, and they could be stuffed with all manner of meat or vegetables (or both), but the sauce – or salsa – is really what it all comes down to.

Most Mexicans, in fact, would agree that the salsa is what makes the difference between a mediocre enchilada and an amazing one. The more basic types are a red salsa made from tomatoes or a green one, made from tomatillos. Chilis – the word enchilada means “en-chili-ed” – are a personal preference for the cook (and for the eater, we suppose). They might be mild chiles de árbol, poblano or serrano or dried pasilla or ancho. Or they might be ratcheted up the Scoville levels to the very hot habanero, which happens to have a lovely fruitiness as well. That’s just for starters, though. Enchiladas can also be bathed in mole, which would make them enmoladas. In Mexico City, the mole is most likely to be the poblano kind, an inky concoction whose incredible complexity comes from upwards of 20 ingredients, including chocolate and many kinds of dried chili. Yet another variation of the enchilada is the enfrijolada, which is – you guessed it – covered in beans.

Because of all the possibilities therein, we were elated to find a build-your-own-enchilada eatery in Mexico City. At La Casa de las Enchiladas, customers can pick from blue, red and white corn, regular flour and whole-wheat tortillas, filling them with chicken, chicken with potatoes, turkey, three cheeses, beef, pork, shrimp, cecina (a kind of dried beef), arrachera (flank steak) or chorizo with potatoes. Besides the classic red and green, the salsas include the restaurant’s own mole recipe, as well as a green mole, enfrijoladas, chipotle, seven chilis, pasilla, encacahuatado (“en-peanut-ed”), and suizas, or Swiss, a green salsa made luxuriantly rich with sour cream and manchego. To top it all off, there is mild canasta cheese, red or white onion, cilantro, sour cream and sesame seeds.

La Casa de las Enchiladas, photo by Ben HerreraFor the ultimate enchilada experience, we get the caporales (the caporal is the highest-ranking official at the ruedo, or rodeo), made with smoky lamb leg roasted in maguey leaves and served with a smooth pasilla salsa, onion rings, cilantro and avocado slices. We love it so much that we have a hard time ordering other kinds when we visit.

La Casa de las Enchiladas started up 13 years ago at the corner of Tokio and Burdeos in the Juárez neighborhood. The business model has been so successful that the owners have opened three more branches around the city. During the week, these restaurants are frequented by office workers and business people, while the weekends find whole families digging into their enchiladas. And why not? There’s something for everyone.

Address: Tokio 110-A, Colonia Juárez
Telephone: +52 55 5211 2247
Address: Lago Alberto 416-B, Colonia Anáhuac
Telephone: +52 55 5260 6693
Address: Rio Lerma 257, Colonia Cuauhtémoc
Telephone: +52 55 5207 6760
Address: Bajio 374-A, Colonia Roma Sur
Telephone: +52 55 5276 9841
Hours: Monday to Sunday 8am-7pm
(photos by Ben Herrera)
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