Chile Colorado

L.A. taco expert Wes Avila features his dad's take on Chile Colorado in this recipe from his cookbook Guerrilla Tacos.

“This is my dad’s take on chile Colorado. He’d just make a simple guisado (stew) with sliced top sirloin and call it chile Colorado. It may not be what you think of as chile Colorado. You can also do this recipe with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I recommend you do. It’s stupid-good. Some grocers mistakenly list poblano peppers as pasilla peppers—make sure you get the dried peppers for this.” — Wes Avila

Reprinted with permission from Guerrilla Tacos, copyright © 2017 by Wes Avila, with Richard Parks III. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Dylan James Ho and Jeni Afuso. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Michael Hirshon. Click here to purchase your own copy. 


  • 3 pounds beef, preferably in one piece (hanger steak, hanging tender, or top sirloin), trimmed and cut into 1⁄2-by-2-inch pieces (like for fajitas) or the equivalent of leftover turkey, breast chopped into pieces, and dark meat shredded by hand
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup husked, rinsed, and halved tomatillos
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dried pasilla pepper, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 dried chile morita, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 to 18 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 2 red onions, very thinly sliced

Serves 4


  1. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Working in four batches, sear the beef until it is browned, about 2 minutes per batch. You don’t want it cooked too much, just coated with oil and browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to another container.
  2. In the same pan, over medium heat, sauté the yellow onion and cumin seeds until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, pasilla, dried chiles, and bay leaves and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos are cooked and the chiles are soft.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the water to keep it saucy. Transfer to a blender and process to make the sauce as smooth as possible.
  4. Return the meat to the pan and cover with the sauce. Serve family-style, with the tortillas and red onions, and let everybody make their own tacos.