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Tortas Ahogadas—Did I miss Something?

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A local friend raved to us about the Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara, on Calle Cosmos, a lateral of Calzada Las Huertas, near the Banamex, in Morelia. (This is out by the Wal Mart).

We went there today, and two of us ordered the torta while the other two had the 3 tacos, filled with the same shredded pork, drenched in a thin, tomatoey broth, and dressed with a shredded cabbage-onion mixture reminiscent of the encurtido on pupusas.

Well, it was an ok sandwich, nothing bad about it, but it seemed underseasoned and did not make me want to come back and get one another time. I'd even ordered it with the caldillo picante, but it was very mild.
What am I missing here?

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  1. Hola Anonimo...yes, you missed something: tortas ahogadas should be eaten at the source: Guadalajara. They're the premiere regional dish of the tapatio and are absolutely fantastic.

    Properly made, a torta ahogada is a bolillo salado--not a regular bolillo, but a salty one--stuffed with roasted pork, either shredded or sliced. That's just how you started out. The whole sandwich is then 'drowned' (the meaning of ahogada) in the same thin tomato broth that you mentioned. The broth can be either sin or con picante.

    THEN you add chile--liquid fire!--to taste. Each torta ahogada stand makes its own style salsita, but the salsas are all firey. That fire is the point of the sandwich, and if you didn't put it on yours, you sure did miss the point.

    Go back and give it another try, this time making sure to ask for the hot stuff. Add plenty of encurtido (some is just red onions instead of onions/cabbage) and enjoy your new experience.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cristina

      Hola Cristina, I did take note that the bolillo was of a different texture and taste than the usual. It was denser and had more taste. The pork was shredded, and while ok, was pretty bland. The caldillo was just thin tomato water. I'd asked for "caldillo picante", but maybe they misunderstood me. After trying a few bites, I knew it needed some chiles, so I asked our young waiter, "¿Hay chiles?". He came back with a bowl of a darker salsa than the one he'd provided earlier. Well, it was "ok", but in our opinion, lacked any real character or "kick".

      I believe that our friend who recommended this place just likes lighter fare than we do.

      Maybe I need to try this place again, but make it very clear that we want our tortas "muy picante".

      1. re: cristina

        "They're the premiere regional dish of the tapatio and are absolutely fantastic."

        Ducks as the tequila glasses come flying from the direction of Tlaquepaque. The Birrieros might have something to say about the premium regional dish.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Okay, okay--how about '*A* premiere regional dish...'

          Although strictly speaking, tapatio refers just to Guadalajarans, not to the rest of the state populace.

          Birria...man oh man, a dish for the gods. That's worth its own thread!

          1. re: cristina

            Wow... a second wave of tequila glasses for excluding Tlaquepaque from the rest of Guadalajara. Wait, I see ceramic items from Tonala headed your way too... and a bunch of angry Chivas fans :)

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              OK, now wait a minute: Tlaquepaque is included in the GMZ (the Guadalajara metropolitan zone) but it is a separate municipality, with its own city government, its own city water, trash pickup...its own city everything. It's not part of Guadalajara at all--it's just that Guadalajara now butts up against the Tlaquepaque western and southern city limits, just as do the municipalities of Tlajomulco and Zapopan. Tonalá is even farther to the east--again, it's part of the ZMG, but not part of Guadalajara the municipality. Let them fling whatever they like!

              And arriba las Chivas!

      2. Or maybe you just need to try a different place. It might not be you, it might be the place at which you tried them just isn't executing them very well.

        It might be worth a trip up to GDL to try them. Lots of options at La Libertad. Great messy sandwich, an entire meal in itself.

        1. We enjoyed them in Guadalajara, or at least my husband did. (I recall that I ordered pozole instead.) A Mexican friend of ours in Canada had said we had to eat them in Guadalajara. Can't recall the name of the restaurant, but it was very good.

          1. The ones I've had in GDL have been great. And searingly hot.

            1. Hi Anonimo,

              For the first few years i would have had to agree with you. Now I find my self craving tortas ahogadas when I'm in Guadalajara. I think the gloopy bolillo it is a shock at first then you palate accepts it as a new and exciting texsture!

              Rick (not so anonimo) Davis

              2 Replies
              1. re: ricpatz

                It seems that we must make a gastronomic journey to Guadalajara, then.
                There are at least two Tortas Ahogadas in Pátzcuaro, where Rick and we call home. One is on Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas, up from the glorieta, on the right; another one near the Lavamatic lavandería, near the bus station. I haven't tried either.

                1. re: ricpatz

                  Rick, email me please: piensalo44@hotmail.com.

                2. My BF had one last week at Pancho's in Tlaquepaque and absolutely hated it, the meat was very fatty and he is not a fan of the Guadalajaran idea of soaking everything in that thin tomato sauce. My "crispy tacos" were terribly soggy as they had been drenched too.

                  1. The best (hands down)tortas ahogadas are at jalisco stadium during CHIVAS games!Buuut.......even better when AMERICA comes for the classico.
                    I've been there with my my dad (chivas fan 4 six decades) twice.Oh lord,they are FANTABULOUS!!If you don't like hot s!$%t nevermind. I think that when AMERICA comes for a showdown all the cooks bring they're A game,because the tortas seem to go up a notch.

                    1. I don´t understand why the sauce is on the outside...maybe the idea is that the first thing one tastes is the spicy sauce....but it gets messy. I love and adore most Mexican dishes but not all of them. I remember in Aguascalientes they have a dessert, so terrible, the waiter at La Saturnina warned me, but still i wanted to try it, similar Spanish torrejas, but really awfull..... Some dishes have a conection with your childhood, something you used to eat when growing up, grandma, chivas, Christmas, birthdays...it is not the food itself but all the memories it brings. I love the vanilla icecream they sell in the streets of my hometown, it is light , not too sweet but with real vanilla. When my husband tried it he thought it was cheap icecream. It continues to be my favorite....

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Xacinta

                        The sauce that drowns the sandwich is what makes the sandwich famous. It's a little like a French dip sandwich gone crazy!

                        Between the salsa muy picante, the pork cooked crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, and the special birrote (bolillo salado) for ahogadas, the sandwich comes together as one of Guadalajara's gifts to the world! Ahh...and add the pickled onions, served on top...so wonderful! Provecho!

                        Watch in the next month for an article and photos on Mexico Cooks! extolling the torta ahogada.

                        Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                        1. re: cristina

                          I'll be looking for it, Cristina! It's on my Blogger "Favorites" list.

                          1. re: cristina

                            Cristina,

                            I will be looking for your report.

                            There are a couple of Tortas Ahogadas places in Rosarito, Baja, but I have no idea if they are "authentic". At least, there are giant painted murals of the "Chivas" mascot on their walls.

                            1. re: cristina

                              The torta ahogada is one of the lovely sandwiches of Mexico.I had one not too long ago at the famous La Chata.I don't believe them to be the best I ever had, but those abulitas can cook just fine. Go ahead and extol the virtues!

                          2. I live in Tlaquepaque and I tried tortas ahogadas on my first day in Mexico and, while it satisfied my hunger and didn't taste bad, my impression was about the same as yours and I was surprised later at how much the locals raved about them. I plan on giving them another chance, but there are so many things I prefer more.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: AshleyShell

                              Yup, I agree with your assessment as well. I tried to find the appeal but they kind of fell flat for me too. Tried them in GTL proper and in Tlaquepaque. Meh.