A torta ahogada is a classic dish of Guadalajara, “part tradition, part rite of passage,” explains losangelicioustimes. “The hefty sandwich involves a thick sourdough-ish roll called a birote salado, which is filled with stewed pork and a thin layer of beans, topped with pickled onions, then literally drenched in red sauce. The last detail is the most important, as the sauce is a careful composite of two other sauces: one mild tomato and the other a searing chile de arbol salsa, which is reminiscent of Tapatio on steroids.” The customers themselves decide the ratio of the sauce. Most go for “mita y mita”—a lip-tingling blend of both sauces. The masochistic may opt for all ultraspicy sauce.

The bread is always particularly chewy, so it holds its form despite the deluge of sauce. “The torta ahogada is intended to be eaten with your hands, staining your fingers red and leaving you with a distinct pepper odor despite the copious use of napkins,” says losangelicioustimes.

Try it at Tortas Ahogadas El Guero, which shares its name with a famed tortas ahogadas shop in Guadalajara.

Tortas Ahogadas El Guero Restaurant [East LA]
4508 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles

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