San Pablo: Tortas Los Chilangos – Ricos Eskimos, banana aqua frescas, strawberry jalapeno tamales and legal elote
No kidding … those Eskimos are muy rico … yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.
Worth every calorie and penny ($5) … probably one of the best milkshake in the Bay Area … rompope, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, crushed ice … perfectly blended and topped with whipped cream. To up the deliciousness you can add any fresh fruit blended in … pineapple and mango were recommended.
I went for the plain version sin mango y pina. It was wonderful, light and very fresh tasting.
Located in Food Barn, Tortas Los Chilangos has 70 types of tortas, tamales, elote, fresh juices, liquados, aqua frescas, and fresh-cut fruit.
Variety is the key here. Not everything is amazing and with a menu this large there are a few things to avoid. It also means there are also a few hits.
The sandwich counter is inside the market. In the evening during the week there is a a small cart outside the front door which sells pork and chicken tamales, Mexican corn (elote) and cut fruit.
The tamales are very good, moist and generously filled with meat. I prefer the chicken which has a deep broth flavor and large, tender pieces of stewed chicken. The pork has a spicy green sauce that takes over the flavor. Strawberry, beef and chicharron tamales can be ordered by special request with 24 hour notice. Tamales are $1.50. A minimum order is 20 and the flavors can be mixed.
The strawberry tamale has strawberry, jalapeno and queso fresco. Doesn’t that sound great?
Choose the pieces of fresh fruit desired. They are put in a plastic baggie and can be sprinkled with chili powder and squirted with lime.
I verify that only one elote in my life was legal. That was at La Calaca Loca which was an upscale version and not as tasty as the street version of questionable legality.
So if looking for legal elote, here it is at Tortas Los Chilangos.
I really liked the banana aqua fresca which is a whole ripe banana, ice, a little water and sugar blended. Very tasty and you can tell them how much sugar you like so it is perfectly sweetened to taste … $1.50 for a small (chica)
The reason the drinks are so smooth is because they use finely crushed ice.
The verde liquodo with nopale y apio con naranja ... cactus & celery with orange juice was a lovely nopale green and tasted green ... tangy with a celery-ness to it. It tasted healthy. I’m more of an Eskimo and aqua fresca fan.
The tortas are huge. As big as a white paper plate. The rolls are special baked for them and the soft roll is very good. Tortas come with tomatoes, avocado, onion, mayo, Mexican cheese and chile. They are lightly toasted a huge sandwich press.
There are flaws almost as big as the sandwiches … price, size and some of the meat.
I wish they would sell half tortas which would be the size of a normal torta. The high prices (nearly $9) are off-putting and IMO they would do more torta business if they offered a lower-cost, smaller sized version. It is quantity rather than quality.
The saucy chorizo is wonderful and that is the only prepared meat I can recommend. Otherwise stick to cheese, deli ham, salchica ( hot dogs),
Skip beef or chicken milanesa, pierna (pork leg), chicken, al pastor, lomo de cerdo (marinated pork loin).
Here are the problems with those meats ... there is no grill.
To heat them they are put in the microwave. I’ve never had chicken or pork reheated in a microwave that was any good. It was really foul, in fact. The Cubano was seriously the worst I’ve had with the off-tasting chicken and lomo. I picked them out of the sandwich and enjoyed the chorizo, cheese and hot dog.
So I’d go with torta # 1, 4, 12, 14, 16, 19, 26, 31, 39, 43, 44, 52. Or create your own combo using the safe meats. The problem is that price. I’m not spending that much for a sandwich to experiment. A half sandwich, yes.
I’m up in the air about whether the chuleta ahmuda (smoked pork) would be good. It looks good. The 33, Chilanga, with smoked pork, pineapple and chipotle peppers sounds good. The pineapple is fresh and not canned. Also 61 and 62 which involve combos of smoked pork, chorizo and bacon.
Since beef microwaves well (the milanesa prep excepted) , the carne asada might be ok.
Tuna might be ok and there are unique combos
- 66 tuna ham and Oaxacan cheese
- 67 hot dog tuna and cheese
- 70 tuna egg and chipotle pepper
Haven’t tried the queso de Puerco (head cheese) which might or might not be good. The number 7 with head cheese, chorizo and cheese might be interesting, but I’ll wait for someone else to try it.
The family is from Mexico City and travel back yearly to check out what is new in the torta and fruit drink world. Tortas Los Chilangos is four years old.
Turns out the action at Food Barn is on weekday evenings when most people shop. It’s the first time I’ve been there when it was crowded.
A previous not so enthusiastic report on the torta … fatal mistake … it had pollo milanesa.
Tortas Los Chilangos
1835 Rumrill Blvd, San Pablo, CA 94806