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Tortas Boos Vani / torta cubana/ etc

p
patrick Sep 25, 2001 04:55 PM

In my continuing quest to find the torta cubana of my dreams, I finally made it to Tortas Boos Vani (on Mission, just south of Geneva, in SF) last sunday morning. I had been wondering about this place ever since I saw it while driving around semi-lost, back when it was called Tortas Bugs Bunny.

Boos Vani advertises "D.F. Style Tortas." Their torta menu is extensive, offering all sorts of meats, combinations thereof, and a few special tortas. The Cubana is one of these special tortas, at a premium price of $7.00. (Regular tortas are $5, and combination tortas are $6.)

Here's what Boos Vani puts on their Torta Cubana:
milanesa (pounded, breaded steak)
pierna (beef shank)
ham
bacon
chicken
a fried egg
salchicha (fried hot dog bits)
chorizo
jalapeno
and lettuce, tomato, queso fresco, avocado.

It's a little ridiculous. I knew this, from looking at the list of ingredients, but sometimes I'm a little one-note, so I ordered it.

The Cubana was so big that I couldn't really take a bite of it like a regular sandwich. I had to sort of nibble at the top and bottom edges. It was good, but so huge that I couldnt really taste the whole thing at once. The milanesa was a little dry. The chicken was shredded and super tender, classic "pollo deshebrado," and the pierna was really juicy and smoky. An interesting sandwich of colossal proportions, but, alas, not the torta cubana I am looking for. I managed to barely eat half of it at the restaurant. I had most of the other half for breakfast. A pretty good deal, two huge meals for seven bucks.

Holly's torta jamon y queso was a more successful affair; thick-sliced ham, a slice of avocado, some jalapeno, and a fried egg layered over a very creamy smear of queso fresco (that may have been lubricated with some crema mexicana). Easier to eat, and much easier to make sense of, culinarily speaking. Where they find ham this tender and lean, I have no idea. She ate half at the place and we split the other half, heated, as a cocktail snack last night. It reheated magnificently.

The rolls, in both cases, were rounder and bigger than I've had before. They were just slightly stale, and crusty on the outside. I don't know if this is more traditionally "D. F." style or not.

Holly remarked that I was a little fixated on the torta cubana when ordering, and that is perhaps why I missed out on the plethora of other delicious-looking options available on a Sunday morning at Tortas Boos Vani. The most interesting special item advertised was Tacos Barbacoa de Borregos, which I later determined was lamb tacos in the barbacoa fashion. They're served with a bowl of consome, which is the broth traditionally used as a steam source in the pit-bbq process. Several folks near us had the barbacoa and it looked and smelled delicious and was only three bucks.

Also on special on weekends is yummy-looking bowls of pozole, and tlacoyos (or tlacollos), oval-shaped crisp tortillas smeared with pureed beans and sprinkled with queso fresco. And they offer sopes, handmade, with either chicken or chorizo, and platanos con crema.

All of which makes me want to go back, soon, prefereably on a sunday morning, and try one or more of these rarely met delicacies.

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  1. m
    Melanie Wong Sep 25, 2001 10:14 PM

    Merely good, this Cubana extravaganza was not the stuff of dreams?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      p
      patrick Sep 26, 2001 03:44 AM

      Well. If the sandwich itself was not the stuff of dreams, then Torta Boos Vani certainly was. It's not very often I want to run home and consult a Diana Kennedy cookbook _and_ a spanish dictionary after visiting a taqueria (torteria?).

      But, the torta cubana itself was, in all its unstoppable glory, somewhat undefined. It faded in and out, like Enid at the end of "Ghost World." It, dear reader, _tried too hard._

    2. a
      Amendico Sep 29, 2001 01:55 PM

      Pardon the extreme ignorance, but this seems to be a Mexican rather than a Cuban dish. Is that correct? No Cuban I know would put an egg on his/her Cuban sandwich, much less milanesa or chicken, and the terms "torta" and "D.F." (Distrito Federal) certainly point to Mexico. I merely mention this issue because I was not aware that the Mexicans had such a torta and I'm curious how it came about. My interest is certainly piqued. Thanks in advance for any background you can share.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Amendico
        patrick Nov 22, 2006 11:51 PM

        The Torta Cubana is the many-hued, highly-variable Mexican "homenaje" to the classic Cuban sandwich. Kinda like how the breaded meat slices are called "Milanesa" and the agua fresca flavoured with hibiscus is called "Jamaica".

        Speaking of Cuban sandwiches, I had a magnificent Michigander "homenaje" recently while in Ann Arbor-- Zingermans makes a beautiful Cuban-esque sandwich.

        Don't ask me why I am responding to a five-year-old post. I just am.

        1. re: patrick
          Melanie Wong Nov 23, 2006 12:51 AM

          Well, my chow friend, whatever moves you! Missing your presence in the Bay Area, but thanks for the reminder of tlacoyos...will have to try them some day. Happy t-day!

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            patrick Nov 24, 2006 10:07 PM

            Melanie, you are too kind.

            I never tried the tlacoyos there but I did enjoy the ones I had at Guelaguetza in Los Angeles-- a must-visit if you are ever down south and near K-town.

          2. re: patrick
            k
            Karen_Schaffer Nov 23, 2006 01:01 AM

            Well, as a relatively new Chowhound reader, I appreciate you bringing this post up to the top for me to find. Now I want to check this place out (assuming it's still there, of course).

            1. re: Karen_Schaffer
              Melanie Wong Nov 23, 2006 01:20 AM

              Here's the contact info.

              Tortas Boos Voni
              5172 Mission St
              San Francisco, CA 94112
              (415) 585-5880

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