Dallas is a hard city to dine in if you don’t like traditional American brunch foods. As we all know, an ordinance passed by our City Council in 1997, intended to boost the city’s tourism profile, legally requires every restaurant within five miles of City Hall to serve some form of eggs benedict, some kind of sweet potato hash, and fancy pancakes every Sunday. Locals have structured their lives around the rule ever since.
Okay, I made up that ordinance. But you had to think about it, didn’t you? A little bit?
There is a better way to brunch, and it involves chilaquiles, an essential slice of our culinary heritage that wakes up Texans with a mixture of tortilla chips, salsa, and, often, a side order of fried or scrambled eggs.
Some day, I want to do an immersive deep dive into the world of Dallas’ chilaquiles. My dream is to spend a month or two having a plate every morning at a different local restaurant, on a quest to identify our best. At least to start out, the yardstick by which I’d measure all other chilaquiles is the hearty version served at Taco y Vino, the beloved Bishop Arts spot that also offers good, affordable wine and a killer vinyl soundtrack.
There are two important things to know about the chilaquiles at Taco y Vino. First, they are an ideal version of the dish. This is, admittedly, a slightly more complicated topic than I’m letting on; chilaquiles can, for example, come with eggs mixed right into the chips and salsa, or on the side, ready for you to mix in (or eat separately) at your own leisure.
At Taco y Vino, the soft-scrambled eggs are mixed right in, and the chips are topped with an additional protein of your choice, if desired. The critical thing, whether egg-in or egg-on-side, is that the tortilla chips are still almost perfectly crisp. Let’s say that a tortilla chip straight out of the fryer is a 10 on the crunch scale, and a tortilla chip you’ve dropped in a puddle degenerates down to a 1. Chilaquiles chips should be, in my opinion, somewhere around 8. Which is exactly where they are at Taco y Vino. The kitchen has its timing down perfectly.
The salsa—choose from verde or rojo, which is a polite way of saying choose verde—is perfect too. And so are the refried beans, made with black beans instead of pintos for extra depth and richness. Digging into this plate, with its spice, crunch, soft eggs, gentle crema, crumbled cheese, and super-savory beans, is my idea of a dream brunchtime experience.
Which brings us to the second important fact about Taco y Vino’s chilaquiles. The restaurant serves brunch seven days a week. There is nothing stopping you from finishing this article and racing off to eat brunch immediately. (Unless you read this after 3 p.m.)
This is the real revolutionary bit. Brunch isn’t for weekends anymore. You don’t even need to be hungover. Any time you want to go out for a midday meal and not eat eggs benedict, Taco y Vino and its glorious chilaquiles will be ready.