When you have a family member with a favorite food you’re likely to have indulged with them on one too many occasions. That’s how it is with my mom and chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish consisting of layers of corn tortilla chips simmered with red salsa or mole. The dish is usually served with eggs or chicken, refried beans, and topped with queso fresco, sour cream, avocado, and salsa. It sounds delicious and like a simple dish to make, but after years of sampling the dish all over California, I can attest to the fact that not all chilaquiles are created equal. The perfect chip texture is difficult to achieve; too soggy and the dish gets mushy, too crunchy and the flavor hasn’t penetrated the chip enough. If the sauce is too spicy, you can’t appreciate the rest of the plate and if it doesn’t have enough of a kick, you’re just left wanting more.
All of this sampling and experimentation, however, has not been futile and my mother has officially declared the chilaquiles from Primavera at San Francisco’s Ferry Market Building farmer’s market, “The Best Ever.” I can’t help but agree. The Chilaquiles El Cardinal are not only the highlight of every Bay Area trip my parents make, but also the first stop. Their last trip to San Francisco was no different and Saturday morning we made our way to the Ferry Market Building plaza. The line is usually a little hectic, but definitely worth the wait. The Primavera stand is nestled between the other prepared food booths outside. When we were finally handed our plates of ancho chile chilaquiles, scrambled eggs and refried beans, we claimed a bench to enjoy our haul. Bright green slices of avocado lay in opposition to the white dollop of sour cream and the sprinkle of queso fresco as we dug into the messy meal. With the Bay Area sun reflecting off the water and the contentment from good food and company, the Ferry Market Building farmer’s market is always the perfect start to any San Francisco day.
A few tips for the Ferry Market Building farmer’s market:
- The farmer’s market only takes place on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. While all the Ferry Market Building shops are open all week, beware of the farmer’s market schedule!
- The line is long so if you’re looking to make purchases from multiple vendors, split up! Have one person wait in the Blue Bottle line while you pick up the chilaquiles.
- Chilaquiles isn’t the only thing on their menu. The mole-covered tamales are almost as good and I’ve always wanted to try the tostadas.