Serious Sandwiches: "La Cubana" Torta from La Casita Chilanga
Who doesn't know what a burrito is? Taco, of course. Quesadilla? No problema. Torta? Well, they don't have those at Taco Bell! Even if you are familiar with the Mexican Sandwich that is the torta, (not to be confused with the Spanish egg "torta") you probably don't know the torta. Why? Because no two are alike, and every region/state/restaurant/bodega has their own version. Meat or no meat? Sliced avocado or guacamole? Black beans or refried beans? The permutations are endless, and you'd be hard pressed to the find the "perfect" torta. That is, until you try the version from La Casita Chilanga, a tiny torta specialist on Middlefield Rd., the "Little Mexico" of Silicon Valley.
Chilango is the Mexican slang for somebody who comes from Mexico City, and "La Casita Chilanga" certainly is a "Little Mexico City House". With barely room to seat 8 people, you order your torta at the counter, and watch them assemble it before placing it in the giant sandwich press. It starts with a bolillo, an oblong Mexican roll, similar to a French baguette. For the main filling, they have about 12 different combos, including chorizo, chorizo and egg, smoked pork leg, milanesa (steak that's been thinly pounded and breaded), salchichas (hot dog), chicken, head cheese and more. But the most popular, by far, is "La Cubana".
Nothing like the traditional "Cuban Sandwich", a Torta Cubana is basically every torta they offer, made into one gigantic sandwich. Slices of smoked pork leg, ham, the milanesa, and salchichas, get topped with Mexican cheese, avocado, black beans, tomato, onions and their special "Casita Chilanga Aoli", which is essentially a chipotle mayo. When I ordered it, the guy made sure I knew "it's for two meals", and he was right. My everything but the kitchen sink torta was enormous, and absolutely delicious. If this is how they do sandwiches in Mexico City, I'm there. I don't know if it's the end all be all of tortas, but it sure felt like it.