Can you get tortas outside of the Eastside? Probably. But can you get a proper and cheap torta outside of the Eastside? I fucking doubt it!
But I could be wrong. It’s happened once or twice before. Hmm, let’s make that just once. Wait, lets make that never. Nobody likes the culture of admitting defeat or wrong-ness, it’s just not American, so I’ll just join in that group mentality, seeing as I’m a full fledged American, technically speaking. What a stupid game, but whatever, I don’t make the rules. Yay, I’m always right! USA! USA!
Err, anyways, back to the issue at hand, which is a proper torta. Yes, I can understand the appeal of a cemita. It has its charms, plain as they may be. And the torta at Antequera de Oaxaca over on Melrose is quite the satisfying experience, with all that illegal quesillo. The spicy and delicious Torta Ahogada that Tapatios prefer is a wonder onto itself. But none of these can replace the tortas I’ve come to know and love, or just grown accustomed to, over all these wretched years of my existence. The plain old default torta, that simple sandwich of the Mexican working class in Los Angeles. It’s something.
I’d like to ask all Eastsiders (aka those that know about life East of the river) a simple question: what is it that makes an Eastside “institution?” Somehow, El Tepeyac got pegged as an institution but I personally think that the food there just sucks, and it always has. And yes, I’ve had my share. But I don’t know shit, since I’m a bastard vegetarian, one whose taste buds are not to be trusted, or so I’ve been told. Me vale.
The only reason I ask is because I feel this taco/torta truck is worthy of inclusion into the canon of “institution”, so sez me. I guess I could ask El Papa for his opinion, but why wait? This simple truck has been feeding Eastsiders for a long time, and at very reasonable rates.
Even the pigeons know this is the spot for a cheap meal! This troka has been at it for quite some time, I remember when they were based on Lorena right next to the old Lucky’s. Back in those days, I used to visit this truck during my lunch hour, since it was just over the hill from my workfare job site. If you don’t know what workfare is, then more power to ya. But if you do, then you know that money was tight. And this truck provided lunch for me, a torta sin carne for 1 dollar. And this included a cup for the free flowing horchata they had on the tap. What a score! Still, asking for a torta sin carne was a task, since the cooks would just laugh and laugh, asking so what the hell do you want on your torta? Eventually, we veggies trained them to understand the concept of a torta vegetariana: no meat, just beans, rice, aguacate, lechuga, tomate, salsa. They thought it was the funniest thing in the world, a torta sin carne. Everything but the meat. Jajaja, que nacos. They thought we were absurd. Hmm, maybe.
(Non-veggie enjoying some tacos. Yeah, taco eaters are people too.)
Eventually, the joke got old and they would just fill the order. And eventually you could order a torta vegetariana with hardly a second look. We sent lots of our veggies friends to that truck, no doubt that helped to cement the idea. Just because some of us are poor and live in East Los doesn’t mean we don’t understand the concepts that lead a person to the vegetarian lifestyle, no matter how much the veggie organizations basically reject our type and our way of life. It seems you have to be middle class to give a fuck about the world, otherwise your efforts don’t count. Haha, nothing new to me. No matter, we poor conscious folk still try to do our bit.
It used to be a popular truck on Lorena and Brooklyn, right off the Lucky’s parking lot. Circumstances had it moving around for awhile, it landed for some time in the lot next to 5 puntos, where it was still very popular. Eventually it ended up on 3rd, at it’s current location, and it still seems popular and affordable. They’ve set up a whole area of benches and lil’ tables under a small roof. While I enjoyed my torta, this whole bench area was quite packed, but it cleared up by the time I took this shot.
Said benches sans the eaters. Well, the pigeons are still there.
A veggie torta! Una torta sin carne! In all its bean and rice and etc glory! The torta and the can of coke came out to less than 3 dollars, pa que sepan. I call that affordable. I should mention that when I ordered this torta vegetariana, the man at the truck didn’t blink, as if it was just a regular order. You might not think so, but I do take some credit for that fact. After all these years, at this particular truck, it’s not a big deal to order a veggie torta. This might not mean much to some of you but I am aware of the significance.
Yummy, yummy! Que tal este sandwich Mexicano? A todo dar!
A Que Tacos!
3rd St and Indiana