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Apr 30, 2008 10:52 AM

Cemita Poblano?

I just read an interesting article on sandwiches in the NYTimes that described a Cemita Poblano:

"A cemita has the familiar look of a Big Mac — until you bite into it. To absorb the layers of spicy meat, soft avocado, fluffy bread and the thick flesh of whole chili peppers is to leave the fast-food nation forever."

I must have this sandwich! Does anyone know if one can be found the Bay Area? Apparently it's a specialty of the Mexican state of Puebla.

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  1. Search this board for cemita. There are 2 threads which I can't link.

    3 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      Sadly, neither thread actually mentions finding a local place that makes cemitas. I've never seen them outside of Mexico.

      1. re: SteveG

        Cemita Poblana sandwiches can be found in New York, as the Times article pointed out, because there has been a huge influx of workers from Puebla (including the kitchen workers in many of NY's top restaurants).

    2. I was thinking the same thing as I was reading that article. I want to bite one of those things.

      1. You know, I'll second that request for cemita recommendations. I did search for other threads but didn't find anything relevant. I'd love to try a cemita locally, since I won't be in LA anytime soon.

        1. La torta Gorda occasionally has them. They told me to check back in 3-4 weeks, which is when they'll get in the ingredients.

          6 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              That picture didn't look anything like the Cemitas I've had in New York. To me, a hallmark is distinct layering, like a Cubano, but more so. Here's one from from one of the better know places for cemitas, Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights:

              1. re: soupçon

                Maybe it's not clear in my picture, but Nido's cemita was stacked layers pretty much like a hamburger. That would have been clearer if I had cut it in half.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  your pic looks just like the ones I always get in Queens… meat + chipotle + avocado + oaxacan cheese on sesame bun = cemita to me. your picture has all the ingredients as far as I can see.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Cemita refers to the bread and/or the sandwich. Here's a description:

                    "Cemitas and pelonas are similar to what would be called tortas or sandwiches made in buns, but there are some differences. The type of bread used for each is quite different.
                    Cemitas: The cemita poblana is a sandwich so big you can hardly get it in your mouth. The bread used to make cemitas is covered with sesame seeds. Cemitas are usually prepared with sliced avocado, string cheese, white cheese, onions, salsa, and choice of different types of meat: milanesa (breaded cutlet), beef, ham, or carnitas. An essential ingredient in cemitas is a local herb called pápalo which give cemitas their particular flavor."

                    Here are some cemita pics/info from places recommended on the Mexico board:



                    My understanding is that mole colorado is a Oaxacan thing and that cemitas in Puebla are a "dry" sandwich. Nido is either playing with the idea of a cemita, or using a regional variation of the term we're unfamiliar with.

                    In any case, La Torta Gorda makes one hell of a torta and I'm excited to see what they can do with a cemita.

                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      How traditional it is to include mole in a cemita I don't know, but the bottom line to me was that the bread was boring and I'd have preferred tortillas.

            2. I've had one in Chicago back 5 years. Saw it on DDD by Guy Fieri of all places. I'm surprised that we don't have it in BA.

              12 Replies
              1. re: hedge_hog

                I think that in Chicago and New York a much higher percentage of Mexican immigrants came from Puebla, hence the specialties of that region are more common.


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  More evidence for my theory that we don't have many immigrants from Puebla here, I went to five Mexican markets in Redwood City and in/around Newark and not one had poblano chiles, not even the one with a large selection of chiles including manzanos and habaneros.

                  Poblanos are readily available here, I think Berkeley Bowl always has them and they often turn up in recipes by local chefs. I guess there's just no demand in the Mexican community.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I buy fresh poblano chiles all the time at Mexican grocery stores from Cloverdale in the north and southward to Salinas. There's plenty of demand in the Mexican community so I'm puzzled that you found none.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Reading up online, maybe they did have them. They had fresh chiles labled pasilla (which strictly speaking is a dried chilaca), but they were longer, narrower, and a much, much lighter green than I expect poblanos to be. They looked more like Anaheims.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yeah, there is that labeling problem.

                        What I buy as Poblanos are the big dark green chiles large enough for stuffing.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Yes, that's what I was looking for and not finding.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I always buy them at Mexican markets because they tend to be fresher than at non-Mex supermarkets. Also there will be more on the shelf and I can hand select the ones that are straighter and will be easier to peel and stuff.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Regarding there not being any Pueblan immigrants, there was a Pueblan restaurant open in Redwood City earlier this year. They listed cemitas. Unfortunately, I didn't learn of them until they shuttered, about a month after opening.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I'm really curious about what markets you went to in Redwood City. I've never had a problem buying fresh poblano chiles in Redwood City. Granted, some have a better selection of fresh produce than others, but they're pretty readily available when I've wanted them...

                        1. re: RWCFoodie

                          I went to La Estrellita in Redwood City, La Hacienda in Menlo Park, Mi Pueblo in East Palo Alto, and Mi Pueblo, Arteagas, and Santa Fe in Newark. They all had chiles labeled "pasilla" but they looked to me like two or three different varieties, none of them poblanos.

                          Today I went to Berkeley Bowl and they had some chiles labeled "poblano pasilla" that weren't as dark or triangular as I expect poblanos to be.

                    3. re: hedge_hog

                      Cemitas Puebla, the original was on North Avenue in Humboldt Park. He just opened up a new place in the West Loop on Fulton Market.

                      Great guy, and a helluva sandwich!