Eastside 101: Tortas!


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

For a map of all the Eastside 101 posts, click here.

15 thoughts on “Eastside 101: Tortas!

  1. I like the tortas at India Bonita on Olympic. Good food Good prices Good people …. yummy!
    Cooks Tortas in MPK not ELA….whaaaa

  2. I’ve been circling around that truck for a while now—too afraid to stop—too afraid to take another chance and be disappointed. I have resigned myself to eating out before I get back home to my hood. There is nada for me here. I’ve seen that guy and others chomping down all over the eastside before and I have not been tempted. 3 weeks of being sick from getting ‘a little meat or juices” in your food will make you skeptical. I don’t even walk on the same side of the street where El Tepeyucci is, least the pork fumes permanently make a home in my nose. I want Chimatli to chime in on this torta-rium on wheels, before I will bite. She’s strictly veggie, like me.

  3. Hey this truck is kitty-corner from my jale at Ramona HS. I haven’t tried their the food there yet but after reading your blog, I will definitely try the torta and give you my non-vegetarian opinion. Also, for you meat lovers, there so pretty decent BBQ at AJ’s BBQ shack on 3rd just east of Indiana (there’s parking in the back since with the construction of the extended gold line, you won’t be able to find parking on the street. Also a few blocks west of Lorena on 4th street (kitty-corner from Evergreen park), there a very good seafood place w. the best fish tacos there & really cheap. They don’t offer tap or free water there though. It seems to me that a food establishment should offer free water. Oh well, after working 13 years in the Valley, I’m rediscovering the EASTSIDE!.

  4. Can you get tortas outside of the Eastside? Of course.

    I know of at least 2 trucks in San Pedro alone that serve a proper (and cheap) torta (best one is on 5th & Pacific at night), and one sit-down restaurant.

  5. There actually are good tortas in Sacramento, SNS. La Favorita in West Sacramento has excellent tortas. So does Beto’s on El Camino.

  6. I remember around 15 or 20 years ago, when salsa sales overtook ketchup (in volume of course, but they never pointed out that you used 5x as much salsa as ketchup) they made a big deal about tortilla chip growth and burritos or tortillas or something like that. The message was that there was either an invasion, or, white people were turning into Mexicans or something like that.

    The funny thing is that the symbols of Mexican authenticity have been swapped. Today, the symbols of Mexican-ness are a ham and cheese sandwich on a roll, an ear of corn with mayo on it, and a bag of potato chips. Does it get more “caucasian” than that?

    What next? Polka music and pickup trucks?

  7. “I don’t even walk on the same side of the street where El Tepeyucci is, least the pork fumes permanently make a home in my nose.”

    Okay, I like this truck but it might have to do more with nostalgia.
    These tortas are best eaten on the spot, they don’t taste so hot after being wrapped up for awhile. It’s hard for me to really be objective about the quality cause it’s a taste that reminds me of a certain time in life…when I could only afford to eat $1 tortas while sitting in my beat up 64 Plymouth Valiant. I’ve never gotten sick from one of their tortas, that’s for sure!

  8. It’s a whole different world between meat eaters and non meat eaters!! Do they have good prices on tortas with meat?? I have had the torta de lengua at “Don Chente’s” in Bell GARDENS and it was excellent, but a bit PRICEY!! I’d agree with soledadenmasa that even a vegetarian torta should have some avocado or guacamole!

  9. I was walking down Alvarado and got to the torta truck and was all inspired by this post, so I stopped, and was looking at the options (as if i needed to – i always get the veggie) and, all of a sudden, people were glancing at me and stuff. They weren’t eating, just standing around, and I realized they were mostly prostitutes and pimps. Just dressed low key – but, the girls were too pretty for Alvarado at 2pm.

    The whole scene made me lose my appetite.

    The crisis is claiming more victims.

  10. pues si men.. hey i love those tortas by the way they are a delight to my taste a rainbow to my eyes and a song to my ears

  11. sorry to disappoint you chavo, but there’s a totartas place in lennox, called los tapatios, they have some bombass tortas, also tortas don chente in HP. Cooks tortas are good too.

    I still can believe how you can live your life with no carnitas at hand.

    que lastima =/

  12. I am not fond of tortas… but I have never tasted good tortas so I would not know 🙁 but if you like SUSHI try ami sushi in Westwood… delish!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *