I was bored one day and caught an old episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on tv. It happened to be the San Diego episode which I had seen before, but I couldn’t remember all the places he visited. Funny thing is the show contacted us back then asking if we knew of any bizarre food destinations in San Diego. We weren’t of much use to them and couldn’t think of anything truly bizarre that we frequented in SD. One of the places he made his way down to try was Tortas Ahogadas, a food truck located in a Toys R Us parking lot off of the 5 freeway in Chula Vista.
All I could remember from the episode was Paco from Aqui es Texcoco and his backyard underground oven. That looked soooo gooood. Anyways, I was going to be visiting Michael and the fam in Chula Vista so Andrew Zimmern sparked the inspiration to try Tortas Ahogadas, a place neither of us had before. They specialize in Guadalajaran sandwiches.
Since we had the kiddos we opted to take it home. The owner wrapped it all up and gave us individual bags for the sauces. Thank goodness cause I was picturing a hot, soggy mess by the time we got back.
I read about countless people and their cautionary tales of how hot their sauce is. Like if you normally get things on an 8 scale, their 8 might be a 12. We carefully mixed a small amount of hot sauce made from chile de arbol, into their tomato based sauce. Even knowing it was going to be spicy, it still kind of caught us off guard.
It comes on a rock hard bread roll which is necessary to stand up to drenching it in sauce. Usually the sauce is poured on top and you eat it with your hands. Michael came up with a novel idea of eating it like a French Dip so 1) our hands didn’t get messy, and 2) it didn’t get super soggy by the last bite of the sandwich. It comes with roasted pork(no oil or greased used), refried beans, and pickled onions. Michael doesn’t like beans and even I didn’t want too many beans here. Luckily there weren’t many and they didn’t add nor detract from everything else.
The dipping method worked out perfectly. After dipping the sandwich for about 5-10 seconds, it had the perfect texture to bite into. Not too soft where you feel you are eating mush, but not too hard you find yourself cutting the roof of your mouth. It was as spicy as you want it to be as you have full control over that when you get it to go. The tomato sauce was almost like a thinner marinara sauce. The pork wasn’t salty and the onions gave it a nice boost of brightness and texture. It was a good sandwich, but probably not one I would go out of my way for. In hindsight, a little more salt could have helped a bit. I probably was too excited and just went all in. The owner did say he plans on opening an actual restaurant in the near future so it will be fun to see what that will be like.
Check out AZ’s top 5 San Diego moments here including Paco’s awesome backyard underground oven and one of our favorites, Tita’s Kitchenette.