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Jun 6, 2008 11:29 AM

The trouble with tortas...

It's the white roll. I just can't get past it. I really *want* to love the al pastor torta at Tacos Lupita. I love their tacos, burritos, pupusas, etc., and the al pastor pork is fantastic. For some reason, though, the excess breadiness of that pasty, white roll, and the slight excess of mayo makes the whole experience too doughy and mild and, well, "white-bread" (in all senses of the word) for me, even with healthy doses of that smoky red sauce. I prefer a higher filling-to-vessel ratio, and strongly prefer corn tortillas to any white-flour creation. That said, I guess I'll stay away from the tortas from now on. Unless---are there any other places that do tortas with better bread?

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  1. Every torta I have ever had was made with a Bolillo, atlhough the crustiness of the roll differed.

    1. Noooooooooooooooooooo! Ok, I admit to being biased, but the rolls at Lupita are the best of the versions I've had around here and are exactly like the torta rolls I've had in Mexico. They get them from a bakery in East Boston that supply a couple of other places, but I gather they are very traditional. Maria Bonita use the same vendor.

      Now, you may just not like these kind of fillings in a white-roll sandwich, which is what a torta is. That is a fine point of view, but as for finding "better bread" I don't think you will.

      Ok, I've calmed down.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yumyum

        I think it is really just a case of my not liking the very *idea* of the torta, at least using the 'traditional' roll. I definitely was not questioning the authenticity, just the general concept. Part of the reason I want to like it is because I know Lupita gets it right/authentic. But sometimes you just have to admit to not having a taste for something, authenticity be damned.

      2. Question.... I wonder if what style of bread is being used there:

        Bolillos are very crusty, and have a pleasant yeasty flavor, and the bread just melts... imho superior to Baguettes...

        Teleras are flat, not crusty and very mild... there are certain types of Tortas I really like with this type of bread.... particularly those made wiht Ham, Head Cheese, Sliced Tongue, Pickled Chicken Breast, Queso Fresco, and doused liberally with mashed Avocados, Doble Crema & roasted Jalapenos etc.,

        Then you have the Birote which is a very salty, dense, sour dough roll which is particularly famous in Guadalajara's Torta Ahogadas.

        Finally there is the Cemita which is a slightly sweet, Lebanese style egg bun topped with sesame seed mostly used in Puebla style sandwiches which are also called Cemitas:

        I personally enjoy a higher filling to bread ratio myself... so you may want to sleuth around for Tortas in the style of Aguascalientes or Altos de Jalisco region... what they do there is take a bolillo, slice it half width-wise... then pull some of the center out to form a pocket & load fillings (usually saucier braises, sautees & stews with crunchy garnishes)... boy, oh boy the Rosticerias in Lagos de Moreno serve pulled Rotisserie chicken tortas with roasted jalapenos, crema & a side bowl of consomme made from the drippings!

        Ah the beauty of a well made Al Pastor Torta:


        5 Replies
        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          La Verdad gets their torta bread from Iggy's and it's really good. More in the style of a Cemita with the sesame seeds on top but not sweet. Really good roll. Excellent after being spread with mayo and griddled.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            Thanks for the wonderful descriptions of Mexican breads. A great bolillo is crusty and light, and as you say, melts in your mouth.

            But don't forget when they pull out some of the center of a bolillo and replace it with a fried tamal, often eaten on street corners for breakfast. Truly gut-wrenching.

            1. re: Cachetes

              Ah yes... I have heard about those Tortas de Tamal... but never had one. Where did you eat them?

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                There was a woman who sold tamales on the corner in front of my apartment when I lived in La Roma a few years back. Most mornings, I'd just sneak out for a tamal and some atole, but on one occasion I splurged for the torta de tamal. Much too early for that. They seemed pretty common at the morning street stands or by the metro.

            2. re: Eat_Nopal

              Hmmm, I guess Lupita always uses teleras then because they are not too crusty (to my recollection).

            3. I'm with you on the bread situation, but if the filling is good enough, I'm willing to make some concessions. Although the bread they use at La Verdad is not what I'd call traditional, their tortas' components are really delicious -- try the milanesa de pollo, it tastes like chicharrĂ³n.

              And thanks, Eat Nopal, for the bread descriptions!

              1. I love these sandwiches and immediately think of the Vietnamese equivalet, Bahn Mi.
                I prefer these two over any kind of sub because of the bread, and in the case of Vietnamese sandwiches, they are infuenced heavily by the French so the bread is usually superior. I really enjoy them when the bread is crusty and slightly chewy.

                You could always pare down the bread or ditch half of it. I used to tear away pieces of inferior bread and eat only what bread I wanted to eat, as I progressed through a sandwich. That way you still have bread to hold onto. Yea, it's a little messy but it works for me. Eat outside and feed the birds.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Scargod

                  I did ditch a good amount of the bread from my torta. But throwing part of a dish away just seems wrong: each piece should work. I love banh mi, and I find the rolls delightful: light and crispy rather than bready and bland. The combination of rice flour and French baking technique is a winner.