Expectations met, and surpassed
Ivanopoblano is located at 390 Wharncliffe Road South in London, Ontario. The menu features the best chilaquiles you’ve ever had.
I’m not sure when I first fell in love with chilaquiles, but it was at the Boon Fly Café in Napa that I realized that they had quickly become one of my favourite meals—one that I would seek out and travel distances to eat, when done exquisitely well.
At its core, a dish of chilaquiles is a dish that excels in its simplicity: lightly-fried chopped tortillas, covered in salsa or mole, garnished with some queso fresco or some crema, or sometimes both. There are a multitude of variations, but the dish is best when it embraces the simplicity of its ingredients, and when it is compiled with care.
A few months ago, learned that Ivanopoblano made chilaquiles.
I had already been smitten with Ivanopoblano’s quesadillas, so when chef-owner Ivan Santana-Barnes made a passing comment about making chilaquiles with his mother’s old recipe, I knew I had to make a trip over to the east side of the city to try them.
Santana-Barnes does all his cooking out of a trailer* in a parking lot of a health food store—he is moving to a permanent location in October 2019, but has been in the trailer since he decided to open his own eatery—and the gustatory delight that he is able to create in a trailer is unparalleled. His ratatouille quesadilla was what initially won me over: it had all the savouriness I expected from a ratatouille I would eat in a French kitchen—the incredible flavours from the stewed vegetables swimming in a saucy garlic-forward sauce—but all the delight that came from eating the dish with my hands, sandwiched in the fold of a tortilla shell.
His avocado quesadilla, a seemingly-simple amalgamation of avocado, beans, and salsa in a tortilla, is another show-stopper, mostly because of the perfectly-cooked and impeccably-seasoned beans; I was very excited to hear that the chilaquiles would come with a healthy side serving of those same beans.
The chilaquiles were the best I’ve ever had. The tortilla shells, delicately-chopped and pan-fried, are lightly-crisped and have no remnants of grease on them that often accompany the dish at other establishments. The salsa is flavourful yet subtle: Santana-Barnes lets the tortillas do the heavy lifting in the dish, and it pays off. Complemented by his standout beans and washed down with a freshly-made agua fresca, Ivanopoblano’s chilaquiles remind you why you love them in the first place: because a simple dish, made with love and care, is one worth traveling across the city to enjoy.
* Since this was posted, Ivanopoblano has moved to a permanent location on Wharncliffe Road South. The trailer may be gone, but the incredible food and sheer delight remains.