Just got back from lunch at La Casita Chilanga in Redwood city. I went there from a recommendation that I read on craigslist (yes that other board). I was not expecting much since my experience with tortas in the Bay Area has not been good, even at heralded places like La Torta Loca or the torta place on 24th street near La Palma. My main complaint with tortas in the area has been the lousy hamburger bun like bread they use. Soft, spongy bread does not belong in a torta. Grant you that teleras (the correct bread) are softer than a rustic crusty French or Italian bread, but there is some resilience to teleras and the crumb is fairly dense rather than spongy. La Casita Chilanga uses the right textured bread and they also grill the tortas to further crisp up the crust. Their condiments were in the proportion and taste as those I remember from this great torteria in Tlalpan. They used flavorful refritos, avocado slices, lots of jalapenos, tomatoes and few onions slices, and a mixture of crema with a touch of mayo (something I have only seen in Mexico City or sourrounding areas). I opted for the Milanesa (breaded thinly pounded beef) since it was a favorite of mine as a kid in Mexico City. It was just right!! Can't wait to go back and try the lomo or mixed torta.
I also sampled a huitlacoche quesadillas which was very good. It was a bit different that what I associate as quesadillas since it was a thicker tortilla that was stuffed with tons of huitla and griddled with an open seam rather than masa stuffed like a large dumpling with a closed seam and deep fried. Still very good and I will sample the mushroom or zucchini blossom filling next time. I think the quesadillas at La Torta Loca are a bit better since you can't beat good deep fried food.
Finally, I sampled a pambaso which was just as bad as every other pambaso I had in the area. It was mushy from being grilled after its soaking in guajillo sauce rather than being crispy from deep frying. I miss the pambasos I had as a kid which were made from mini chewy rolls stuffed with potatoes and chorizo, soaked in chile sauce and fried.
We had a melon agua fresca and one from "tepache" which is slightly fermented pinneapple. This is the first time I have encountered tepache in the Bay Area. Both were well made and less sweet like they are in D.F.
The place has a ton of character with lots of D.F slang in the Spanish menu and jokes about "chilango" culture. Service was qui Overall, good vibe, some damn good tortas. Can't wait to go back.
La Casita Chilanga
761 El Camino Real
Redwood City, CA 94063
(btw Broadway & Brewster, right side of El Cam if you're heading North)