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El Birotazo, Las Vegas - "Tortas Ahogadas" found

q
QAW Jun 10, 2009 12:10 PM

Because Las Vegas is so transient sometimes the best dining finds can happen by accident, and seeing a "Tortas Ahogada" sign at a strip mall on East Charleston just provided that. The sandwich is one of Guadalaraja's many contributions to the culinary world (it is hard to go more than a couple of blocks there without finding them either from a storefront or a street vendor), but has been hard to come by in Las Vegas. As such, El Birotazo (4262 East Charleston) forced a stop, and it was well worth it.

As it turns out the owners are from Guadalajara, and have been open for about six months. There is no printed menu, just a few items listed on the wall, and only seating for about 10-12 people. But they had a steady flow during this lunch hour, about half for carry-out orders, which is always a good sign. The best sign was the sandwich.

Their Torta Ahogada was an excellent version of what I had been accustomed to in Guadalajara - over-stuffed with chunks of roasted pork, on a roll (bolillo) that was thick and crusty enough to hold up to the dunking, served with a bowl of sliced onions in their red chile broth, and several lime wedges (if you have not had the experience, a torta ahogada is a "drowned sandwich", roast pork on a roll that is entirely submerged into a fiery red chile broth, usually arbol-based). And they serve them on plates that hold a fair amount of the broth, which means that the last few bites can be eaten with a spoon, as the bolillo inevitably breaks down.

This is a no frills place, and I am not sure that anyone in the kitchen speaks English. But sometimes that makes it even better, since they seem to take a pride in a product that they likely grew up eating, and know how to master.