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a brief comment on a late-night torta


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a brief comment on a late-night torta

Thi N. | Mar 5, 2009 10:40 AM

This is not a particularly great recommendation.

It's called El Super Taco - I think. I took a card from them and then I lost it. It's a little tacqueria on Santa Monica, in the same mini-mall as the carneceria that makes the good cemitas poblanas, that's something like "El Zedugunga." I think the tacqeria is called El Super Taco. Something like that. I was with a Canadian, who looked askance at it looked like it would be terrible to her. It looked great to me. We determined that Montreal-based food-finding instincts and LA-based food-finding instincts are totally different. Small, brightly colored, tiny joint in the corner of a strip mall packed with mixed-ethnicity crowd, blaring music: seems good to me. And it *smelled* good to - not fine and delicate, but semi-greasy good. It smelled like hunger.

It was 10:30 PM. I'd just gotten through a rough three hours of teaching. My soul was dragging like it was dragging across sand. I needed food, and I needed direct food. Every here seemed to be getting tortas - pressed tortas. We had milanesa - fried, in a breading that seems distinctly... school cafeteria-like. I don't mean that in a bad way, but there's a particular kind of nubbly industrial faux-bread-crumb that shows up on school cafeteria fried things, and certain frozen foods - like fish sticks. The classic nubbly frozen fish-stick coating. I'm not talking the beer-battered coating. The one that's like... thick sand. It had that. I think it may be precisely the same fry batter mix that frozen jalapeno poppers come with - the kind you get at, like, TGI Friday's.

Anyway: the sandwich was good. Not earth-shatteringly great, but definitely a solid 10:30 PM exhaustion-lights-dimming I-need-this kind of good. Alright: really good. Fried thin steak, bean paste, slightly intense cheese (string cheese funky?). Canned jalapenos. Simple flavors, salty. It's pressed flat. The best part is the flattened bread. It's fresh. It's got that glorious crustiness - almost like Dutch crunch bread, almost - and it's flattened and extra-crunchied in the sandwich press. I haven't had a torta quite texturally like this before. Definitely a "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" thing. Not, in any way, delicate, nuanced, or whatever cooking. But there was an overall harmony, a meld or blend to everything. There was balance. Really satisfying.

I think there's habanero salsa too. It's orange, and it tastes like habernero.

Anyway - Streetgourmetla and I have this violent, running argument, that starts up again every time we drink. Basically, he thinks sandwiches aren't real cuisine, and I think they are. Cemitas poblanas is the core of the difference. Basically, his argument is, as far as I can tell, "That they're just a sandwich!" I'm not sure. I may be missing some of the nuances of his argument. I'm not sure - I've been drunk every time.

My girlfriend thinks this argument is hysterical.

Anyway, I bring this up, because, though I think cemitas poblanas is legitimately cuisine, and Streetgourmetla doesn't, whatever degree of cuisine-hood you're willing to grant to cemitas poblanas, El Super Taco's torta is signifincantly lower on the cuisine scale.

It would probably be significantly better if you were slightly drunk.

Maybe there's a great divide in the world of food: "food that's better sober" vs. "food that's better drunk." Does that make the second category worse? Is pool less of a sport than golf because one plays pool a little better drunk? I'm not sure. I could be persuaded in either direction.

But I'm not saying I don't like it. I like it. A fairly decent large amount. Probably more than I should.

Anyway: El Super Taco's torta. Simple. Salty. Strangely, strangely effective and moving, especially if you're tired and wrung out. Probably better drunk - though I haven't actually tested that in fact. It is completely devoid of any Mexican provincial authenticity or legitimacy. I highly recommend that streetgourmetla not go, or he'll lose what little respect for me he has.

I would not recommend this place to any visitors from out of town as an exceptional exemplar. I would not put this place on any thread about excellent, high-authenticity, superb Mexican dining. I would not tell people to drive there from far away. But I have a feeling that, since I haunt that region often, and at late nights, and often with strung-out and slightly drunk people, that I will return. More than once. And that, more than once, it will be *precisely the right thing for the moment*.

El Super Taco
11923 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA‎
(310) 312-6260‎

(I think)

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