Is there anyplace here in the general L.A. basin area that makes these sandwiches? I'v been to a lot of places and have never seen them on the menu. These are classic Gudalajara street food. It's basically braised pork--moist not crispy like the american style carnitas--in a really crusty bread roll. To eat it, you soak the bread ina thin non-spicy tomato sauce to soften it and then add as much chile sauce as you can take. The trabajadores in Guadalara skip the tomate and just dip the whole torta in an absolutely viscious salsa.
I asked a friend from Guadalajara and he said the climate's wrong to make the bread. I'm not that sure I can buy that since the climate's just not that different.
Last weekend MOm's tamales in lincoln heights http://www.momstamales.com/ (NOT mama's in macarthur park) made these tortas.
I live close by and had to try it - the bread was not soft, more like day old crusty frnech and smothered in the sauce. it was hot as blazes (they use a habanero sauce.) they asked if i wanted it medium spicy and i said no, i want it hot spicy. I put half a habanero in my morning smoothies, so i'm not unfamiliar with its tingle.
This was a very nice sandwich. I think they are only doing it on weekends now, but they are nice and might do it anytime you ask (i go often and frequently order off the menu, and they're always adventurous and accomodating)
sidenote: i love the place, but sometimes their tamales are too dry
You probably want to go to Taqueria Vista Hermosa next to Chichen Itza in the Mercado La Paloma. They not only have good Torta Ahogadas, but truly excelent Pambasos, which are visually similar, but stuffed with rich, spicy, chorizo and potatoes.
The bread is unarguably softer here than in Guadalajara, and the sandwiches come predipped in fairly mild salsa, but I think that it's more of regional a style thing than a climate limitation.
The menu is here:
Directions are here:
Like all of the restaurants in the Mercado La Paloma, Taqueria Vista Hermosa closes at around 6:00, so it's better as a lunch option.