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A Sandwich a Day: The Toron Bäco at Bäco Mercat in Los Angeles
The line between what a sandwich technically is and what a sandwich technically isn't can blur substantially at a place like Bäco Mercat, especially when you've got the drinks menu in front of you. Spend an afternoon in downtown Los Angeles at chef Josef Centeno's latest easy-bites spot and you may come away scratching your head at what you just ate, but you'll also be rubbing your stomach in fond memory.
The namesake bäco sandwich ($11) falls into pita/flatbread/puffy taco category, with an airy, lightly crisped 'U' of pliable dough holding in all of the ingredients. It's not eaten upright, like a taco, but generally head-first, like an oversized Martin's Potato Roll with the back hinge of bread still attached. As for the ingredients? Well, this place just gets curiouser and curiouser.
Plenty of people favor "the original," a mix of lightly glazed pork belly and beef carnitas with spicy salbixtada to liven things up a bit. However, burger lovers will swoon for "the toron," a funky oxtail take on one of LA's most beloved two-handed meals. The pressed hash patty arrives shimmering with juiciness and laid on by a thick slice of cheddar. Although the hash is cooked through, the creamy, fragrant, almost tzatziki-like sauce makes absolutely sure you won't need any help swallowing each savory bite. Topped off with fresh greens and crispy fried potatoes (latke, anyone?), the toron is a transformative sandwich, at least with its more-than-meets-the-eye approach. Whatever this thing is, it's unstoppable.