Chilaquiles at Juquila

Chilaquiles at la Juquila (they made me cry)

One of the things that often bugs me about stereotypes of Los Angeles is that lots of people think that Westside is synonymous with white. Well, that’s simply not true, even in the more affluent community of Santa Monica. I’m not sure about numbers, but judging by the number of Oaxacan restaurants in the area, there a lot of Oaxaqueños on the Westside… and the food is good.

My first review of chilaquiles (a la El Chavo’s huevos rancheros reviews on the Eastside) will be at Juquila.

Now, I have to admit I’m totally biased toward Juquila. It’s the smallest and most humble of the three local Oaxacan restaurants I’ve visited (the other two are La Guelaguetza and Monte Alban). It’s also the cheapest, and the place where most of the patrons are transplanted Oaxaqueños rather than non-Mexican westsiders. I’ve also been going to Juquila several times with good friends and even had a first date there back when I was an undergrad. Yeah, lots of happy times.

I also almost always order los chilaquiles and horchata. Even though the menu offers cecina, tazajo or chorizo as sides, I always ask for a side of grilled chicken breast. The chilaquiles are always yummy (and big!), but this time they made me cry.

Ambiance: the place is small and L-shaped. There’s enough room for about 7 booths along one wall and four or so tables in the middle. The decor is homey, but inviting. They have colorful photos depicting festivals in Oaxaca on the walls and a flat-screen TV above the window to the kitchen (they had TV tuned to Univision for a Copa America match). I went around 3 pm on a Saturday, all the booths were taken up except for one. I could have taken advantage of their happy hour, but chose against it ’cause eating alone is already a little weird, but drinking alone?

Service: good, friendly. They serve yummy tortilla chips with red mole (colaradito) and queso fresco. Also, I only got to read a couple of pages of the book I had just picked up from the library before my food arrived. The young waiter tried to give me huge plate of carne asada before realizing he was at the wrong booth.

What I liked: generous serving; crunchiness of the tortillas lasts for a while, but not too crunchy; queso fresco on top; generous portion of side meat of choice, great for leftovers; affordable price, $7.99 for the dish, $2 for the drink.

What I didn’t like: a little too spicy (at least for me); large pieces slices of onion rings rather than finely chopped onions; they don’t look soggy, but they had a little too much sauce which was enough to soak the lettuce under the chicken; sour cream, I usually prefer my food without it; no side of beans.

Verdict: overall, a very good experience. I’ve ordered the chilaquiles at Juquila several times and will do so again in the future (unless I’m in the mood for mole).

Bonus: the guy across from me — who was annoyingly yakking away on his cell phone the entire time I was there — started talking to me as I was getting ready to pay. He first asked me about the soccer game on TV, since he could not see the TV from where he was seated. He then started trying to say he’d pay for my food if I had a drink with him. No thanks. He wasn’t attractive and had annoyed me, but I was still amused that he was flirting with me.

Juquila,
11619 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.
(310) 312-1079

10 thoughts on “Chilaquiles at Juquila

  1. yaneth

    ay… yesterday, me and my boo went to Las Casuelas in Highland Park, specifically for their Chilaquiles. We had waited a while so we were soooo looking forward to them. We got soooo soooo dissapointed when they told us, “No Chilaquiles today”… WHAT?!!!! ‘No way! thats why we came!”.. Apparently they ran out of the chips they make them with…we were so bummed. Now your blog is making my mouth water, and crave it even more! I appreciate the critic… will look forward to a visit to this place.

    Reply
  2. Patricia

    Ohhh. They look so good…But unfortunatly I’m on a protein diet…That diet is the worst for Mexicans, because you know we love our tortillas… This weekend I went to a party that had a taco man… Those tacos were so good, even without the tortilla. He’s at Lorena And 4th. St. In East Los Angeles. My son said their the best tacos in town. Hugos Tacos

    Reply
  3. EL CHAVO!

    One thing I’ve noticed in chilaquiles is that some places will just use some cheapo bagged tortilla chips and douse them with sauce which of course leads to a very lackluster dish. If you spot some of these cretins I hope you call them out for a good flogging! If I can fry my own at home, a restaurant should be able to do the same.

    Reply
  4. cindylu Post author

    Santiago,
    They were really filling, and I didn’t even finish the chicken.

    Yaneth,
    I hate chilaquiles-related disappointment. The worst was seeing them on a menu in a Santa Monica restaurant for $18!!! I was insulted. My mom entices me to go home with a promise to make me chilaquiles.

    Patricia,
    I gave up tortillas for Lent, so I totally know what you went through at the party with the taco man.

    Chavo,
    I’m not one to flog, but I’ll try to live up to your reviewing skills.

    Julissa,
    :D I like writing delicious posts.

    Oso,
    We used to call the poor people’s food at home. Is that a Texas thing or something? I don’t think chilaquiles is on par with meatloaf in terms of being poor people’s food. I mean, meat loaf has meat! That’s gotta cost more than some tortillas.

    Reply
  5. chimatli

    I’m so glad you’re reviewing my favorite dish!
    The best chilaquiles I’ve had have been in Mexico (of course!) In Oaxaca and in this little cafe in Tijuana.
    In LA, they used to make them really good at Tacos Michoacan in Highland Park but they changed cooks and recipes and now, not so good.
    Can’t wait to read more reviews!

    Reply
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