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Jul 17, 2006 03:17 AM

$11.99 Cubana Suprema - La Guarecita Taqueria y Mercado – Bay’s best torta, beats DF

No, Tres Agaves hasn’t opened an East Bay branch selling twelve dollar tortas ... and I complained about Slanted Door’s seven buck banh mi.

There is only one big-priced torta at La Guarecita. It is the Cubana Suprema and I haven’t had it yet. I started with the humble milenasa $4.99.

This torta is better than anything I ate in Mexico.

First of all the meat is good ... the thinnest, meltingly tender slice of beef, deliciously and lightly breaded and grilled so the edges are slightly crispy ... sigh.

It is in a roll that is brushed with butter and lightly grilled on both sides. The warm soft bun lovingly holds the meat, tomato, lettuce, avocado, little sliced onions, jalepeno, and beans ... real beans ... Mexican beans.

Everything is done so there is true balance.

The shop is a grocery and meat market. That meat is wonderful-looking and that translates into that terrific milenasa.

There was a fantastic looking house-made sausage that looped endlessly. This place has one of the best Mexican cheese selections in the area. Butter in one pound blocks wrapped in waxed paper is $.69 a pound. At this point I’m dreaming there’s someone in the back churning it ... ok, I don’t know about that ... but $.69 ... and it is pretty good.

So, the entire menu is in Spanish without English transalation. Oddly enough, the staff speaks excellent English, so no worry. For people who can’t read Spanish there are pictures of the sandwiches. So here’s the description of the $11.99 torta from the menu

Cubana Suprema

Milanesa, jamon, chorizo, pierna, salchicha, queso de puerco, fresco y amarrillo, con un tonques Mexicano.

There are other special tortas and I’ll probably order the Chipotluda next ($5.99) – Milenesa, ham, Oaxacan cheese, and chipotle .. sure, why not .. yum.

Other special tortas are the regular Cubana, Cuba-Mex, Pechugona, Cremosa (sounds REALLY good), Ahogada, Del Chavo, Enchilada (yes a torta), Jarocha, and Hawaiiana.

Then there are the eleven regular tortas.

They have the loveliest grilled onions and peppers for some of the Mexican plates.

Other items are Chavindena, Sincroniadas, quesadillas, burritos, tacos, nachos, pupusas, tamales, chiles rellenos and tostadas.

Aquas frescas, liquados y malteadas available.

This is a clean, sunny market. There are a few nice light wood tables inside and a window counter. There are also two sidewalk tables.

Like the take-out menu says these are las mejores tortas. I agree. My torta was simply the best.

La Guarecita Taqueria y Mercado
1848 23rd St (nearish the San Pablo Avenue merge)
San Pablo, CA 94806

510 236 1644


Mon – Fri: 8am – 9pm
Sat – Sun: 9am – 9pm

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  1. OK, I’m going to stop being lazy and give the details of the torta menu

    Also, they sell carnitas and birria by the pound – estilo Michoacan

    All tortas come with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion and beans.

    A quick aside, reading the menu in Spanish it just occurred to me why none of the tortas I ate in Mexico City had veggies on them, I was afraid of getting sick ... Sin lechuga, por favor ... sin lechuga. It wasn’t the style, it was me ... estilo Krys.

    Cubana (regular) – milenesa, ham, cheese $5.99

    Cuba-Mex – queso fresco, milanesa, ham, yellow cheese, con tonque Mexicano ... what is that? Roberto isn’t home to translate. $6.99

    Pechugona – pechuga empanizada de pollo $4.99 ... something about chicken breast

    Cremosa – al pastor, queso montery y crema $5.99 ... no translation necessary, si?

    Ahogada – carnitas, grilled onions and special sauce $5.99

    Del Chavo – ham and cheese $5.25

    Enchilada – con queso cojita enchilada $4.99

    Jarocha – fillet of fish, chipotle and special sauce $4.99

    Hawaiina – ham & pineapple $5.25 ... wonder if it is fresh pineapple

    The regular tortas at $4.99 are:
    Milanesa, * asada, * al pastor, * carnitas, head cheese (queso de puerco),* birria, * cabeza, * chorizo, * lengua, panela (?) , ham

    In addition to all the above meats with a *, the taco and burrito meats include: chicken, buche, cueritos and chicharron.

    8 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      mmmm....the cremosa sounsd great! Thanks for the report!

      1. re: susancinsf

        Back at you with your SF report. So what is "con tonque Mexicano"?

        1. re: rworange

          Got me. No idea what tonque is. "Tonque" is not in my English/Spanish dictionary, and babelfish translates it as 'With Mexican Tonque' (big help that is...)

          are you sure it isn't a typo or misprint? Since 'lengua' is used elsewhere I am assuming it isn't supposed to be 'tongue' in Spanglish...

          If no one else knows, I guess you need to go back and ask, unless I get there first! :-)

          1. re: susancinsf

            Yeah, I wouldn't make a special trip, but if you live in the area, I highly recommend it. This looks like ever nondescript Mexican market on 23rd Street in Richmond/San Pablo. We are not talking Dona Tomas or Fonda. However as tasty, if not tastier than that little torta place near the office in DF.

            1. re: susancinsf

              I have a feeling its a typo: if it were "toque" instead of "tonque" It would mean "With a little Mexican touch." That makes sense, no?

              1. re: susancinsf

                my Spanish is far from fluent, but I'm pretty sure that's a typo and that there's no such word as "tonque," probably in any language.

          2. re: rworange

            I was over at Annies Annuals picking up a few things for the back yard and stopped in to give them a try.

            Warning number one, don't order anything bigger than your head - these sandwiches are huge! I had the Chipotluda (chorizo, ham, cheese, veggies) and I'll have it for lunch tomorrow, too. It's about a 10 napkin sandwich, and worth every one.

            The owner was friendly and eager to tell me about the sandwiches. I also got some carnitas for dinner, $4.99/lb and very tasty. Included a baggy of what look like house made pickled jalepenos and veggies.

            1. re: Scrapironchef

              Those carnitas are less than what we pay at Quiroga, Michoacán and environs! Here we pay from $120 MXP to $140 a kilo.
              Of course, ours *define* carnitas. ;-)

          3. wow... mouth started watering as i was reading your post.

            how does this place compare to the tortas place near La Strada?

            3 Replies
            1. re: kc72

              Sooooo much better. The meat is a higher quality ... the bun is better. It is a larger sandwich. If you try it, please report back.

              1. re: rworange

                I'm looking at mapquest to see how to get there and it makes my brain hurt. I'll do better in the morning.

                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                  Not sure where you are coming from, but the biggest street that is familiar to most people is Rheem. So when you get to 23rd off of Rheem, head toward Pinole and not Berkeley. If you see Portumex ... wrong direction.

                  I'm blanking on other nearby landmarks. They are remodeling all the businesses on 23rd and it is an attractive organgish market with a few tables in front and some veggies outside usually. It is up by Church Lane, if you know where the Catholic Church is in that area.

                  Same side of the street as the high school, a few blocks up. Sort of nearish the Rainbow Outlet and the liquor store selling African and Carribean food ... gotta check that outs soon. However, Rainbow is on the other side of the street ... and you thought mapquest was confusing.

            2. Another thumbs up for La Guarecita. I am consistently ISO a torta similar to what I used to get at a little place in Oaxaca. Torta Loca on International Blvd in Oakland and Tortas Los Picudos on 24th in SF were both OK, but did not measure up. La Guarecita does.

              I had the milanesa which was as advertised thin, tender and protruding from all edges of the perfectly soft yet crunchy bread. Also tried the taco de birria which was fine and nicely priced at $1.25... it's made with res (beef) vs chivo (goat) as in other parts of Mexico. Ate at one of the benches in the store which was pleasant and gave me access to a nice bowl of mixed chiles.

              Also, to put a question to rest, the menu has been reprinted and now features "toque" not "tonque" de Mexico. So, sorry, no mystery ingredient...

              1 Reply
              1. re: otis

                Yeah. Someone tried it. I really like that place. Most of the places around here make birria de res. The only one I can think of that makes goat is El Tapatio on 23rd .. great goat too.

              2. i went last night with my sister. someone was right earlier in this thread - it's just "toque", which means touch - a touch of mexicana is what they're saying. that cubano supremo is the size of Frankenstein's head. we had to have them quarter it and THEN we SPLIT that quarter in half. we also then had half each a cremosa. i sometimes find too many flavors tend to overwhelm, and that's how i felt about el Supremo. the milanesa and the bread were excellent, but i could have done without the hot dog and american cheese. and the headcheese and the chorizo were overkill, tho the roast pork was very good. i would go back and try just a milanesa sandwich with queso fresco - we grew up eating milanesa all my life and this one is nice and crispy yet very tender. great little find, especially in that cute Flintstoney neighborhood!