A Look at Mexico’s Comfort Foods and Where to Get Them in Milwaukee

Here’s where south-of-the-border food fits into comfort territory.


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No talk of comfort food should fail to mention Mexican cuisine. And I’m not talking about tuna poke tacos topped with salmon roe. I mean the kinds of things the surgeon general warns you not to eat on the regular. Because it’s so delectably loaded with stuff we know isn’t that great for us, but tastes so good. For me, I’d call it Mexican-ish. Or Southwestern-ish. Frito pie is one. It’s essentially chili, cheese and corn chips. My mom called it corn chip casserole, and it was delicious. Growing up, our tacos were made with ground beef, topped with cheddar and served in hard corn shells. Our salsa was Ortega.

Now, my most soothing Mexican dreams are of enchiladas, the kind with lots of sauce and cheese. Back in the day, I’d have satisfied my fix with the cheese and onion enchiladas in red sauce at Conejito’s Place on Sixth and Virginia. Now I head to Cielito Lindo (733 S. Second St.) for the enchiladas verdes or to Café Corazon (multiple locations) for their ’ladas stuffed with pork and smothered in homemade red sauce.

Another dish is chilaquiles – fried tortillas simmered in red sauce until they just start to soften. I’ve had them with chicken and dressed up with accoutrements like fresh avocado, crema and queso fresco. You might also see them with a fried egg on top for a breakfast. A great place to get chilaquiles is Guadalajara (901 S. 10th St.). The same spot also serves two versions of another deep comfort – pozole, a pork (or chicken) hominy stew.

The chile-based red pozole adds spicy heat; to me, the green (tomatillo) pozole is richer and more complex. And birria tacos? I’ve written about these divinities before – fried tortillas filled with a rich meat-adobo stew and served with consommé for dipping. To try them, check out Taqueria El Cabrito (1100 S. 11th St.) or Lazo’s Taco Shack (641 N. James Lovell St.)


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.