September 3, 2010

Where to find great enchiladas in Flagstaff, Arizona

Cafe Daily Fare's gourmet chicken enchiladas
You’ve probably been enjoying these tasty staples at Mexican restaurants for years, but did you know the word “enchiladas” means "filled with chili.” The word enchilada first appeared in print at the end of the 19th century.  The original version of enchiladas were more like the stacked enchiladas you may have eaten at a Mexican restaurant in New Mexico - stacked in layers with a fried egg on top. Modern enchiladas are a hearty meal and perennial Mexican restaurant favorite. Here’s a look at some of Flagstaff’s most noteworthy…

Las Gorditas Mexican Restaurant
2900 N West St, Flagstaff AZ (just south of Cedar in a small shopping center)
Las Gorditas has some of the very best enchiladas in town. They serve Jalisco-style food, all recipes of Mom Santana or recipes passed down for generations in her family. The red sauce is flavorful but not spicy. They're a super bargain at $4.99 for two cheese enchiladas with rice and beans both at lunch and dinnertime. And they're mouthwatering, as are the pork. Be warned, you may become addicted at one bite and be coming back here all of the time.

MartAnne's Burrito Palace
10 N San Francisco
“The House That Chilaquiles Built" also serves a mean enchilada. Traditional, super filling and spicy describes everything at MartAnne's and the enchiladas are no different. You can even get one for breakfast if you want with a big ol fried egg on top (like the Jerry with pork and green chile). And of course everything here is made with love by the hands of owner-chef Anne Martinez, who you'll find working in the kitchen whenever they're open. Give her a wave, a big thanks and a good tip for your delicious enchiladas, if you can break yourself away from the chilaquiles, that is.

Cafe Daily Fare
408 E. Route 66 (behind the Babbitt used car lot, 1/2 block east of Elden St)
The eclectic Café Daily Fare serves gourmet enchiladas as part of the "Chef's Playground" part of the menu, which means they make a showing occasionally, though you can always buy them by the pan to serve at a dinner or office party. You’ll find spinach, achiote chicken or ancho pork on the menu. The chicken enchiladas are delightfully different from any other enchiladas in town. These smoky, sweet and spicy bad boys are bursting with flavor, topped with a little cotija cheese and seeds along with a house-made roasted red pepper salsa. They leave your mouth warm and wanting more.

Salsa Brava
2220 E Route 66 (at Santa Fe)
The beloved Salsa Brava has quite a selection of enchiladas on the menu. Sour Creme and Chicken, spinach or Enchiladas de Cameron (shrimp) are all topped with a yummy cilantro cream sauce. They also have unique Portobello and Spinach enchiladas with grilled portobellos mixed with spinach and cheeses topped with a red chili sauce. Or you can go traditional with cheese, pork, beef and chicken enchiladas. You can’t go wrong with Salsa Brava’s classic cheese enchiladas with a little homemade salsa on top.

La Fonda
1900 N 2nd St (Just north of Route 66)
One of the best lunch specials in town revolves around the enchiladas at this locals favorite restaurant: two cheese enchiladas, rice, beans, a soda and a sopapilla al for $7.50. They’re simple and delish. La Fonda also has several other enchiladas any time of day to choose from including chicken, shredded or gowned beef in red or green sauce as well as carnitas enchiladas.

Casa Bonita
1551 S Milton (across from Target)
Try Casa Bonita’s Camaron (shrimp) enchiladas with tomatoes, onions and cilantro or Enchiladas de Espinacas (spinach) with fresh sautéed spinach, tomatoes and onions, both smothered with a creamy sauce. They also serve up what they call Enchiladas Deluxe which are your choice of enchilada topped with green salsa, lettuce, guac, sour creme, tomatoes and onions. I love these extra toppings! Other house specialties include Enchiladas de Jaiba which have crab meat topped with a special tomatillo sauce and sour creme and Enchiladas Suizas, which are traditional enchiladas with a tomatillo sauce and sour creme on top.

Tacos Los Altos de Jalisco
3650 E Route 66 (off of Fanning Dr)
This little drive-thru (or small sit-down) restaurant serves up a mean cheese enchilada. It is smothered in a red chili gravy and topped with a bit of lettuce and tomato. These aren't spicy, just a mouthful of flavor. Tacos Los Altos also has shrimp, beef and chicken enchiladas.

Los Altenos Restaurant
1481 S Milton (Near Cheba Hut)
Grab a bunch of napkins before you bite into Los Altenos' enchiladas. These are served up in an almost soupy state smothered in a ton of chili sauce and melted cheese. They don't skimp on the meat either. You can order two or three cheese, chicken or beef enchiladas with rice and beans for $6 to $7.

221 E Cedar Ave
Simple, fast, cheap and gigantic describes Poliberto's enchiladas. Here I'd go for the green chicken enchiladas. They are overstuffed with shredded chicken (but no melted cheese anywhere in sight), lightly topped with a thick green sauce that is spicy with a great aftertaste. The order of two comes in at $4. Poliberto's also has cheese, beef and chicken enchiladas topped with a milder red sauce.

(This was originally written by me for Flagstaff Live!)


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