Tortas in Austin
Where do Austin Chowhounds go for the best tortas in town? I searched the board, and found a couple of mentions buried in other threads, but thought it would be best to start a new thread on its own.
Here's what I think makes a delicious torta:
1) Good bread - I like the bread fairly soft (more telera than bolillo) but toasted so the outside is crispy, even slightly burnt.
2) Good meat - I like al pastor, but my wife prefers something leaner like pechuga or pierna. In any event, it should be flavorful and not dry.
3) Good condiments/salsa - definitely lettuce, tomato, sour cream/crema and avocado. I like the option of cheese (queso fresco or similar) but can live without it. There should also be both a red and green salsa on the table to add to the sandwich.
4) Good value -- preferably less than $4 for a meal-sized sandwich.
I'm not a fan of tortas and Mex food places, but I know exactly to what you refer. So far, the closest to home (El Paso style) is Taquerea Arrandas on Burnet. Exactly as you describe. You have to ask for the green "orange" sauce, but they automatically hand out the salsa fresca. Last I checked they were in the $3.50 range. Honestly, I can't remember if they toast the bread or not, but my recollection is no unless you specifically ask.
i actually had one the other day. not bad and cheap for a filling meal. they toast the bread on the outside and they are 2.89 + tax if i recall correctly. the options were: milanesa, beef fajita, al pastor, pierna, avocado and a few more i can't remember at the time. they also had one called a cubano torta (almost $4 + tax) which was their spin on a cuban sandwich. having never tried it i can't recommend. good luck!
I also had a torta at Arandas #3 the other day. Made me wish I'd gotten a burrito like my friend did.
I got milanesa in my torta, which is a piece of tough meat that has been beaten to death then breaded and pan-fried. It came with a little lettuce in it, a single sliver of avocado, and two small pieces of ugly pink tomato.
Taqueria Vallarta at 35/Riverside and Taqueria de Jalisco (also known as Jesus Maria) at Koenig/Woodrow are better.
I still miss living close to La Mexicana on S. 1st for their tortas and churros. As an added benefit, they are open 24 hours a day. It really helps to speak a little Spanish when ordering. I know they offer meat options, but we always ordered ours with egg instead. The price seemed to vary dependent upon who rang it up although it was never very much.
I guess I should let you all in on my experiences as well. I live and work in NW Austin, so these places are all out that way.
Taqueria Guadalajara (620, west of 183) -- This is my favorite in Austin so far. The pork had a good flavor, although I think I got a few gristly pieces.
Taqueria la Tapatia (183 and Anderson Mill) -- I used to frequent the one in Houston, but this place seems totally different. Are they even related? I was pleased the last time I went, but not quite as good as Guadalajara.
Tacodeli -- (Mopac & Burnet) Pretty tasty, but not really what I'm looking for. The meat (pastor) wasn't right, and I thought it was weird that it came with a green salad. Good choice for taking your parents or someone who doesn't like taqueria food.
I have had the milanesa torta at La Tapatia on 183 & Anderson Mill, and been happy with it. It did take a long time to come out (for that place-they are usually speedy),
I will have to try Taqueria Guadalajara-my friend loves going there for the breakfast tacos.
The Burrito Factory in Dobie Mall has great tortas. The al pastor is delicious. Plus they usually have real horchata too.
2025 Guadalupe St Ste 244, Austin, TX 78705
, Austin, TX 78701
i can always count on the Mejicano ladies at work to come up with good lunch ideas for pick up. They brought me a torta from Las Delicias meat market on William Cannon and Congress. It was a huge pastor thing w/ avocado (and beans/sour cream) on toasted bread. it was a pick up order, so it was a little less than crispy/toasty, but that pastor was succulent and yummy. i don't remember how much it was, but i know i gave them a five and got some change. and brought half home to hubby.
Las Delicias has super cheap and usually pretty good food. It's strictly a point and nod place for me. The bad part is that you have pay up front in advance and it's unclear what you you get for the price you just paid. but it's always come out dirt cheap. The meat quality is questionable which I assume is why so much of the stuff is braised with many other ingredients.
I've had the chipotle torta (the "Chipotlera") at Dos Batos and it's very tasty. The meat is flavorful and it has a good amount of spice. They could be more generous with the avocado and the tomato is just OK, but the real star is the meat. The only sad (but inevitable) part is that the carnitas get soggy in the chipotle sauce.
My sister had the regular carnitas torta and it was outstanding as well. It comes with a side of salsa. The meat is very fatty and rich and still crisp in some parts.
The sandwiches are pricey, but they are something I crave regularly now.