Must-Try Recipe: La Contenta's Chilaquiles

New York City's La Contenta Cocina del Barrio is hands down our new favorite Mexican food find. Chef/Owner Luis Arce Mota's menu showcases his Mexican roots and French culinary experience via traditional ingredients, with an emphasis on chile peppers, and they recently started serving brunch, which makes us even more happy to venture in. Their Chilaquiles (tortilla casserole with oaxaca cheese, tomatillo-chipotle salsa, eggs any style) might be some of the best we've ever had and luckily for you, we scored the top-secret recipe below.

MORE: The Best Latin Brunches in New York City

Aside from being our new go-to for brunch, their impressive main menu offers an eclectic and delicioso variety of options as well. Try the Tostada de Cangrejo (sweet blue crab meat, celery root purée, chile de arbol, crispy kale) or the Langosta a la Mantequilla (poached lobster, chile morita butter, parsnip purée, green peas, mango, vanilla).
(Aguachile de Camaron)
Head Bartender/Partner Alex Valencia is also an important addition to the La Contenta familia, as his robust range of agave spirits, fine tequilas, traditional sangritas, and creative micheladas take this Lower East Side gem to the next level. El Easy Rider (reposado tequila, ancho Reyes, star anise, grapefruit, mole bitters) and the Mexican Firing Squad (sotol, lime juice, grenadine, Angostura bitters, soda) are two of our favorite libations they offer.
(El Easy Rider)
But back to those Chilaquiles... "The key to good Chilaquiles is that they are eaten right away. The tortilla chips need to be both covered in piping hot sauce and crispy at the same time. Our version uses two salsas: green tomatillo and chipotle-tomato," says Chef Mota.
La Contenta's Chilaquiles Recipe



Green Tomatillo Salsa:

  • 1 lb. green tomatillos (husks removed)
  • 4 chile serranos
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • ¼ cup sliced onion

Chipotle-Tomato Salsa:

  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes
  • 6 oz. canned chipotle peppers with adobo
  • ½ of a small onion
  • Salt to taste


  • 1 lb. corn tortillas
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup Mexican cream or crème fraiche
  • 6 oz. queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese

Preparation of Green Tomatillo Salsa:

  1. In a saucepan, bring the water and salt to boil. Add garlic, chiles, onion and tomatillos and simmer uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Transfer garlic, chiles and onion and half of the tomatillos to a blender and puree.
  3. Add the rest of the tomatillos and puree briefly. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Preparation of Chipotle-Tomato Salsa:

  1. In a skillet, roast the tomatoes and onion for 8 minutes, while turning tomatoes and onion to roast evenly.
  2. Peel and discard skin from tomatoes.
  3. Put tomatoes, onion and chipotle peppers with adobo in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.

To Create the Chilaquiles:

  1. Cut the tortillas in half, and cut each half into three pieces.
  2. Fill up ½ of a saucepan with oil. Bring to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook cut tortillas until crispy. Drain, salt lightly, and put aside. (As an alternative, you can use store-bought tortilla chips.)
  3. In a large skillet, add ½ of the green tomatillo salsa and ½ of the chipotle-tomato salsa. Heat until simmering. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add ½ of tortilla chips, ½ cup Oaxaca cheese and mix together. Repeat with other half.
  4. Serve immediately onto plate. Drizzle cream on top and crumble queso fresco or cotija cheese on top. Top with a fried egg if desired.


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