State Of The Torta 4

Let us take another look at how the lil’ old Torta is doing these days in Los Angeles. First up a quick tour into Boyle Heights which seems to be Cemita Central.

Yup, we’ve seen this $5 Cemita from Los Poblanos before. It was worth a revisit: packed with salty quesillo and big chunks of aguacate, this simple and fresh sandwich has some inviting qualities. It’s kinda like a Mexican Ploughman’s Lunch all stacked together.

Couple it with a fresh agua like the awesome nuez or pistachio and it makes for a good lunch treat. You order from the truck and sit inside to eat on the fancy plastic tables and chairs.

Spotted on Cemita Row: one of those ridiculous fake mohawks. No doubt cuz his mom would get mad if he got a real one.

Across the street, another Cemita truck with the indoor seating arrangement. I don’t know what to make of this ad though, maybe they try to emphasize their pechonalidad.

A non-meat torta is still a weird request at this place, they gave me just Panela cheese and no quesillo, but you can see it was overflowing. At $6 its still a deal but a bit on the boring side so you might want to share it with a friend.

Up the street at the car wash a woman sets up her food stand on weekends and serves mostly mole con pollo but she offered these “piquaditas” when I said “no como carne”, which lead to some lecherous jokes about carnality of a different sort! These have a fresh masa base (like a sope) with tasty salsas smeared on and topped with queso fresco. Damn these were good! Around $1.25 too. Si la!

Come on now, this looks stupid, wrapping cheese around the outside to make it look overflowing. This is the result of asking for a “cemita de queso” at Juquilita on Lorena. Solo el queso en el pan? No, una cemita normal solo no carne.

He comes to our table later to ask if we want aguacate. Hmm, this is gonna be interesting.

Ha Ha! Jokes on me.  A dry cemita bread with just Panela cheese and aquacate. No papalao, no chile, ni la pinchi sal. All for $6. Next time just stick to the enchiladas de mole. I think I’m going to stick to my normal tortas for the time being.

Over in Lincoln Heights, good old Chapalita is still the spot for quick cheap eats.

Now that’s more like it! Beans and rice, oh how I’ve missed you. Plus lechuga, tomate, queso, salsa, and mayonesa to round it all out. Around $4 with a can of soda. Wot a bargain!

Over on Main St. still in LH, Wendy’s Tortas grills their bread proper.

But it gets smushed down into a fragile package that can get messy. And they only add a thin smear of beans, although the melty cheese is nice. Not bad but not on my essential list.

I’ve been spending more time in Downtown lately where there are many eating options though the bulk seem to be of the new fancier variety, with lunch averaging around $12 for some precious fare presented nicely on a plate. Sure, its often good but sometimes you just want a quick bite to kill the hunger not a list of pricey items in season and all that waiter nonsense. So I’ve been walking around trying to find the spots where the laborers get their grub. How come the local papers and blogs tell me nothing about what I want to know?  It’s all fancy restaurants and real estate development. Pass!

Near Grand Central Market Taco House #1 has a veggie torta on the menu with rice, beans, and lots of creamy dressing which is either mayo, jack cheese, or sour cream, I couldn’t tell. I forgot to take notes but I think its about $4.50 and it comes with a few chips. It’s okay.

I like their $3 bean and cheese better.

One bonus about these cheapo places: you don’t have to endure lawyers and their ilk babble on and on about their assorted pendejadas while you try to enjoy your meal. Aren’t they supposed to keep some of that private? Please do! Better to read the tables anyways or just add your own status update.

Somebody hearts cholos. That wouldn’t be me.

It’s good to meander around the city cuz by accident I stumbled upon this nice torta: grilled telera, beans, sliced panela cheese, and fresh aguacate, decent salsas available, good aguas frescas. I’m going to try their HR’s one of these days. This one I can recommend. Mai Mexican Kitchen 633 S. Spring

There’s a torta place that has good recommendations over on Santee but the line was too long and with mostly fashionable people, maybe next time. Down the street was this spot. A ver que tal Doña Inez!

I wish they’d grilled the bread, what’s the point of these untoasted tortas? This just makes one contemplate hitting up the panaderia and the mercado for a diy effort.

Everyone else was enjoying their food and talking about the the jale (hmm, is that any better?) so maybe next time I just skip the tortas and go for the chiles rellenos.

I might have to take a break from Tortas since it is that time of the year for the other torta I crave: Tortitas de Camaron con Nopales! The lenten dish of the poor, ground shrimp and egg fritters in a chile sauce. Available Fridays at only the finest eateries, like these from Lencho’s in Lincoln Heights. (Yup, I’m a bad vegetarian but don’t you worry about my black soul and ethical lapses, pay attention to your own.)

Alright, that’s enough of this shitty torta update. I promise to do a better job next time, I might even grill my blog post and slather it with mayo!

Provecho!

10 thoughts on “State Of The Torta 4

  1. “piquaditas”, aqua fresca y chapalita – sounds good.
    nice post, EC. – and thanks.

  2. btw – i’m hungry now – thanks…
    minus the camaron, though – more for you!

  3. Thanks Señor Chavo for this great list. I never even knew that you could get a torta at Chapalita. I used to go there as a kid for cheap tacos and a soda. Now I know I can get me some cheap tortas. How do you request usually? Torta sin carne? Or torta vegetariano? I’m not sure which one would get less sideglance glares.

  4. If they have it on the menu as a veggie torta (some places do) then I go with that but usually that doesn’t mean anything to people so I just ask for a normal one with everything except the meat. When I ordered at Chapalita I asked if they could make me a torta sin carne and they were like “i guess if you want it that way we can make it”, like I was a fucking idiot. Ha Ha! It was pretty funny.

  5. Bro, bro, bro! Your food is still missing a slice from an animal. Whats more ridiculous than the fake mo-hawk is the fact that hes riding a scooter WITH a fake mo-hawk helmet. Really enjoy the food posts. There is good torta truck on San Pedro and 27th. I’m not sure about their schedule (I think its open on a weekend/nightly basis) but there is always a huge line. Of course, they taste better with a little cow in there.

  6. At cemita truck yesterday (translated from Spanish):

    Me: I’d like a cemita de quesillo, please (this must’ve thrown ’em off already cause no one from Puebla says please, j/k)
    Cemita Man: With panela too? What kinda meat?
    Me: Panela, yes. No meat, thanks!
    C.M.:…no meat???
    Me: No, I don’t eat meat
    C.M.: Oh, we can put chicken on it.
    Me: Oh, thanks, just the cheese
    C.M.: Hey, we have fish! Do you want fish? (He’s thinking I’m a hardcore lent Catholic)
    Me: No, it’s okay I don’t eat any animals
    C.M.: (he smirks at the cook) No animals, eh? (laughs) Ok… (shakes his head)

    I actually didn’t mind the exchange and was kinda happy to be in a neighborhood where there was still some kind of interaction, discussion and surprise about being vegetarian. I have to say they went all out on the cemita too. It was the best I’d ever had: perfectly grilled bread stuffed with avocado, chipotle, quesillo and panela and a delicious smoky red salsa that they use on their tacos arabes. Mmmm…

  7. LOVE your post and as always the pictures make your reviews-social commentary come to life.
    I only eat meat about 10% of the time- usually a fat juice burger. The rest of the time is veggies and fruit, chocolate, coffee and alcohol..in that order.

    almost all the tortas looked appetizing except for that sad cheese and avocado one- these cooks-chefs need to eat and taste their own creations to see if they measure up.
    I for one if all else fails- i add red hot sauce or jalapenos.

    Cemita Central thats on Whittier Blvd right? that dude on the scooter (thats what happens when a gallon of regular gas is $4 bucks) and faux hawk it looks like the corner where there is a Bank of America and across from it is a Burger King if im correct- i occassionally take the Metro 18 and aguanto the slow pace and crowds of that route. Oh and that fool about to cross the street….No No fashion fail- NO flip flops- he’s not at the gym , at the pool or beach..no mames total turn off.

    BTW- this pocho fresa nerd (me) also enjoys easy simple gastronomia- getting back to my roots and raza. I want an horchata spiked with vodka or whiskey.
    And is laeastside.com going to be a paysite just like the new york times?

    i got my coins i need to take to coinstar and i do recycle too aluminum/plastic 🙂
    ok thanks bye.

  8. La china poblana just up the block from the Los Poblanos truck has a queso cemitas, but if you eat meat I’d recommend their carnitas cemitas with chipotle only $4. At the Los Poblanos truck I recommend the hawaiana (queso, ham, milanesa, pineapple, avacado, onions, some green leaves and chipotle) it’s $7 but bigger than your face!

  9. I know you wrote this a few years ago. The photos really make me crazy with hunger. I’m in Italy now for a few months and there are no tortas to be had (I’m not complaining, though.) I did buy some avocados, so I can at least make guacamole. Vegetarian sandwiches in Italy, tend to be cheese and bread, that’s about it. Normally, sandwiches are just meat and bread, a little fancier at a touristy place or one that specializes in sandwiches. Anyhow, now I will dream of tortas all day long.

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