New York is famous for many things, including sandwiches. Think about the possibilities at lunchtime: There’s everything from heroes to pastrami on rye to a banh mi or even a Cubano.
But one of our favorites is the Mexican torta, a sandwich that often gets overshadowed by burritos or chicken mole on a menu. What makes tortas so great are the slew of ingredients stuffed inside. There’s often not one, but two types of meat, cheese, veggies, sauce and beans. So next time you’re at El Mariachi in Astoria or just about any Mexican joint, skip over tacos and try a torta with breaded flank steak and chorizo, Or pick up lunch at Pampano Taqueria in Midtown, which serves one of the best shrimp tortas around. The cities studded with torta shops worth visiting.
This Astoria café has an extensive menu of traditional Mexican cooking, including a roster of outstanding and overstuffed tortas. Seriously, these sandwiches are the size of a football, easily more than enough for two to share. Our favorite of the nearly 20 varieties is the restaurant’s namesake. El Mariachi is loaded with spicy breaded flank steak, diced chorizo, gooey cheese, vegetables, and in case that’s not enough, a fried egg. It’s a delicious mess.
Address: 732 Classon Ave., btwn Prospect & Park Place (Brooklyn)
732 Classon Ave. (Brooklyn) between Prospect and Park places
Prospect Heights residents are crazy for this cozy, neighborhood spot for plenty of reasons, including the quality of ingredients and creative combinations. The kitchen transforms chiles rellenos and the chorizo con papas, two classic Mexican dishes, into terrifically tasty sandwiches. As for the chorizo con papas, this bad boy comes layered with sausage, potatoes, sour cream and pickled jalapenos.
Address: 805 Third Ave., btwn 49th & 50th Sts.
Phone: (212) 751-5257
Those with nine-to-five jobs in East Midtown should consider themselves lucky, if only because they can grab lunch at this taqueria, located in the basement of an office tower. Richard Sandoval has elevated Mexican cooking to an haute plane, including tortas. But their fancy pedigree doesn’t make them any less tasty. Just the opposite. The ingredients are top-notch and just plain terrific, especially the shrimp torta smothered with a deliciously thick black bean puree. And while the sautéed fish with cabbage and chipotle sauce may be untraditional fillings for a torta, we’re not complaining because it’s a steal for $8.50.
Address: 4508 Fifth Ave. (Brooklyn)
Though this Brooklyn eatery is better known for its burritos and tacos, the real find here is the tortas, served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s lots of great options, but the al pastor torta is our favorite filling because we get to watch this spicy, tender meat sliced from the spit when we order it. If we make it in time for breakfast, Tacos Matamoros try the chorizo con huevos, which makes a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich at your average diner seem downright boring.
Pueblo Mini Market
Address: 3908 Fifth Ave., btwn 39th & 40th Sts. (Brooklyn)
Phone: (718) 435-3326
You’re feel like you’re “in-the-know” when you discover the tortas at this Sunset Park because it looks like your average bodega. What you’ll find are phenomenally fresh griddled tortas. There are more than 20 kinds to choose form, but you won’t go wrong with the Cubano, stuffed with beef, sausage, ham and cheese. And true to the Cuban sandwich form, the Cubano is pressed like a Panini, achieving a crispness and gooey cheesiness that’s unlike most tortas in town.