When you think about dishes made with tortilla chips, two options come to mind: nachos and chilaquiles. After all, these two Mexican classics share some traits: both are savory, spicy, and include some type of cheese. However, there are some crucial differences between them too.
Chilaquiles vs Nachos: Different Origins
Both Chilaquiles and Nachos, originated in Mexico and have their own unique stories. Nachos originated in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, in northern Mexico, in the 1940s.
As legend has it, nachos were created by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, a maître d’ at a local restaurant, who assembled the dish quickly using what ingredients he had on hand: some fried tortilla chips, grated cheese, and jalapeno peppers.
Chilaquiles, which are also made with tortilla chips, spicy sauce, and cheese, have been around for centuries. Historians believe that the history of this dish back to back to the Aztec period, as hinted by its name, a combination of two words in Nahuatl, chilli (chili) and atl (water). (Nahuatl was the language spoken by the ancient Aztecs.)
Different Preparation Methods
The preparation of both dishes involves tortilla chips, but the cooking method and the toppings used in both are different.
Nachos are made using fried tortilla chips, topped with melted cheese, sour cream, beans, jalapenos, and meat.
On the other hand, while Chilaquiles are also made using fried tortilla chips, they are sautéed in a hot chili sauce and served with a smattering of toppings, such as Cotija cheese, sliced onions, fresh cilantro, or sour cream.
Texture and Flavor
Texture is a major differentiator between Chilaquiles and Nachos. Nachos are usually crispier, with the toppings adding more texture.
Due to the spicy salsa in chilaquiles, the tortilla chips are usually softer, and the flavor is more intense. However, most restaurants in Mexico will have you choose between crunchy or soft chilaquiles, with the difference being that soft chilaquiles are made with more salsa, which softens the tortilla chips.
Nachos have become a popular snack aworldwide, particularly in the United States. Although you can have nachos as a side dish, few people think of them as a whole meal.
Chilaquiles, on the other hand, are more of a traditional Mexican dish that is served for breakfast with different sides, such as eggs, chicken, or fried beans.
Wrapping It Up
Chilaquiles and Nachos may look similar and be made from tortilla chips, but the texture, preparation, toppings, and use differ.
Nachos are the perfect snack food, while Chilaquiles are a favorite Mexican breakfast dish or hangover cure.
The good news? Both are delicious dishes and you can find them both among our many Mexican specialties at El Pollo Norteño!
Enjoy Authentic Mexican Food at El Pollo Norteño
If what you want is Authentic Mexican food in California (including burritos!), El Pollo Norteño is the place to go.
Visit today any of our five locations (Anaheim, Santa Ana, Garden Grove, and Lake Forest), order online, get in touch through Facebook, or call 866-MI-POLLO to enjoy our authentic Mexican dishes: amazing chicken grilled to perfection over real Mesquite charcoal, caldo de pollo, flan, carnitas, carne asada, and more!