New York will never be the taco city. We know that. We can't win 'em all, and considering we have pretty much everything other cuisine on lock down, we probably shouldn't get too upset about it. Also, it gives us a reason to actually look forward to traveling to LA. Tacos aren't the only form of delicious low-brow Mexican cuisine though. One avenue NYC hasn't driven down yet is the torta. Enter Tortaria, a new-ish cafeteria which focuses on the glorious Mexican sandwich it's named after. We're surprised more people aren't talking about this joint, because it's a diaper dandy (sorry, I've been watching way too much of the NCAA tournament).
We went in not expecting much, but left pleasantly surprised by what's going on at this place. Quick, specialty fast foods are something lower Manhattan now thrives on, and Tortaria deserves to be mentioned alongside their fellow low-cost, high-reward brethren like Luke's (lobster rolls), Bobwhite (fried chicken), Caracas (arepas) and Mile End (sandwiches). Tortaria has some issues, which we'll get into, but the food certainly isn't one of them. The menu is large, yet focused. There's a Mexican sandwich and a taquito for every palate. And that guacamole, oh hell yeah. It's ridiculous. Each and every batch is made fresh to order and is crazy good.
Before arranging to meet your new online love interest here, you need to be prepared for what goes on. This ain't the spot for sexy time margaritas. There are lots of drinks on the menu, including fresh fruit cocktails and a laundry list of tequila choices, but they take an insanely long time to actually get and the bartender is probably also the dishwasher. Go to Mayahuel for date night. Tortaria is more like an NYU dining hall - overflowing with college kids and serving quick eats on the cheap. In BusBoy talk, which I now find myself using way too often these days, "Tortaria is a thunderdome of Mexican sandos, with mad kids posted up lookin' to snack tough and chill out. You feel me?" Busboy David goes to NYU...see what I did there?
As discussed above, we love the guacamole at Tortaria. They make each batch to order, and it's got a perfect balance of creamy avocado, tomatoes, and onions. As per usual with made-to-order guac, you choose how spicy you want it. We tend to roll medium.
Their signature torta and essentially one of the best fried chicken sandwiches you'll find in NYC. It's a Panko-crusted chicken cutlet with spicy black beans, melted Oaxaca cheese, avocado, pickled red onion, jalapeño, chipotle mayo, and cilanto. This thing will put a hurting on you, in the best way possible.
Every sandwich pretty much comes with pickled red onions, which pretty much guarantees they'll be delicious. However, we will say that the pulled pork wasn't our favorite. The slow-roasted pork is somehow a bit dry.
The first torta I tried at Tortaria and still one of my favorites. The meat has a ton of flavor and is plentiful in between the warm buns. Simply served with all our favorite things: avocado, pickled red onion, jalapeño, and fresh cilantro. Do it.
For the vegetarians, there's a grilled cheese and also this thick fried eggplant cutlet sandwich. A win for the herbivores.
The other dominant player on the menu, the taquitos. These aren't exactly the fully wrapped, crunchy taquitos you find in the freezer section, but are closer to a basic soft taco. Each warm white corn wrap is hand pressed, for optimal eating pleasure. Once again, pickled and fried onions are all over the place, which makes eating these a lot of fun. Our favorites are the Carne Asada and the Pollo Asada con Chicharrones.
Sweet plantains, corn mango relish salsa, thick, spicy fries and mango chipotle slaw all get the Infatuation seal of approval. Corn on the cob, not so much.