Huevos ahogados en caldo de pollo, literally "drowned eggs in chicken broth," seems tailor-made to get you back on your feet after a long and ill-advised night of alcoholic debauchery. As served on the weekend brunch menu by Autentica, one of Portland's premier purveyors of upscale Mexican cuisine, the dish ($10) clears both headaches and sinuses with equal aptitude.
Set piping hot on the table, the enormous bowl of caldo rojo immediately begins to work its magic on you, luring you in with an irresistible scent of slow-cooked stock and shaking you out of a bleary-eyed funk with its beckoning coils of warm steam.
A fist-sized island of chicken rests in the center of the red lake, flanked by two poached eggs and joined by tender strips of onion and epazote, a Central and South American herb with an anise-like pungency. Squeeze the accompanying wedge of lime over the entire production (hey, you need your Vitamin C!) and you've got one serious bowl of chicken soup.
Were the dish to stop there, it would still warrant the reluctant morning riser's attention, but Autentica goes one step further and serves a stack of homemade corn tortillas alongside the soup. They are excellent, among the best I've had anywhere, and their inclusion means that you're really getting two dishes in one: huevos ahogados en caldo de pollo, and chicken-and-poached-egg tacos. The combination of rich egg yolk, potent epazote, and broth-infused chicken is guaranteed to send a hangover running for the hills.
You're also given three delicious salsas with which to amp up the heat level of your meal. Those looking for something mild should stick with the tomatillo-and-avocado salsa, but the other two—a thick paste of chile arbol and a chunky salsa of chopped jalapeños—are for hardcore mouth-searing enthusiasts only. Use sparingly unless your goal is to supplant the pain in your skull with a tongue that feels like it's been stung by a wasp.
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