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Tortas Wash Mobile is Tijuana's first, most famous, and longest-standing torta stand. In 1964 the stand opened with no official name and was unofficially branded Tortas Wash Mobile because of its location, adjacent to TJ's first car wash. Today, the car wash is long gone, but locals maintain a fierce and passionate loyalty to the only item they serve, a carne asada torta (35 pesos, or less than $3 US).
Decades of perfecting the recipe and grilling technique has resulted in one of the best street food options in Tijuana. Second generation grill master Juan Manuel (son of the original owner) cooks butterflied strips of brisket that have been marinated for 12 hours over a mix of charcoal and mesquite chips, which imparts smoky and tangy flavors into the beef.
After grilling, the beef is chopped into small pieces and placed in a metal tub of beef juice on the grill while the rest of the sandwich is readied. A Mexico City-style pambaso roll is toasted in the grill, dipped in the tub of beef juice, then smeared with a thin layer of mayo. The beef goes on first, followed by guacamole, tomatoes, pickled red onions, and hot sauce.
It's so good that crossing the border solely to eat a torta is totally justified... but get two of them because the line to get back into the States can be long and slow-moving.
Tortas Wash Mobile
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax