Saturday, November 8, 2008
La Torta Loca
La Torta Loca is my kind of place. It serves the mostly Spanish speaking community in East Oakland. It shares a space with a laundromat, the seating is quite limited, and there are absolutely no frills. This is some of the least pretentious food there is, the kind that is sadly lacking from most people's radar screens in the Bay Area. It's about the food dammit. I'm losing my voice saying this again and again.
I like La Torta Loca's menu. They offer a nice spread of Mexican comfort foods. Besides the straight ahead tortas you've got pombasos, flautas, huaraches, and sopes. Until recently they had served the fascinating and delicious huitlacoche, but it has since been crossed off the menu. Shame. All in all, there appears to be some real potential at La Torta Loca. I say potential because of my recent meal there.
On my visit I ordered a torta de milanesa. Milanesa is pounded and fried beef. That's the quick explanation at least. The seven dollars I paid seemed really steep until my food arrived. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. What came was a little bit disappointing.
Huh? What am I looking at here? I've spent a fair bit of time in Mexico and eaten my share of tortas. Tortas that I am familiar with are made with a bolillo. A Bolillo is simply a Mexican baguette like bread. They are firm and crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside. Just what are we looking at here? So far the tortas I have gotten here in the Bay Area are made with something else entirely. Recently I have been served tortas upon what can only be described as hamburger bun-like bread. This torta seen above was actually a step up, but not a huge step. The bread is still very airy and rather tasteless. It was grilled to make the outside a bit crisp but it was still less than inspiring. I'm lead to believe that there is no bakery in town baking proper bolillo as hard as that is to believe.
This torta might not look it, but it was massive. It was filled with: meat, beans, lettuce (argh!), onions, avocado, and a couple of nice pickled jalapenos on the side. This torta was massive owing to being so full of meat. This is a problem for me as I normally eat a largely vegetarian diet. I'll eat meat when I go out on occasion, but never at home. To be confronted with such a meat extravaganza was more than I could comfortably handle. My advice to you: bring a friend and split one.
Regardless of the misfire, there's something I like about La Torta Loca. Call me crazy but I think I'll be back soon. The huraches look like a good bet.
La Torta Loca
3419 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601