The sign reads A small piece of Guadalajara in Richmond
While the exquiisito pozole and autentico tortas Cubanos lured me in, recent Chowhound posts about ALBONDIGAS made me decide to order the Tortas AHOGADAS.
Do you know what that is? asked the owner.
Meatballs? I replied.
No he explained, it is a sandwich that is a specialty in Guadalajara. It is a pork sandwich that is dipped in hot sauce. If you dont like spicy, we can put the sauce on the side.
Being a stickler on autentico, I opted for the sandwich with sauce.
Drowned is a good description. A long roll, cut in half, filled with small cubes of pork and topped with thin sliced rings of raw white onions, is submerged in a soupy, spicy, tomato-based sauce. The roll absorbs the thin sauce. It is the type of sandwich to eat with a fork or a spoon. Carefully carrying it home, didnt keep the sauce from spilling out of the Styrofoam container into the bottom of the plastic bag.
If you are getting this takeout, order the sauce on the side so you can pour it over the sandwich later and not lose some in the transport. When you are ready to eat it, put sandwich in a soup bowl and pour the WHOLE container of sauce over it. Thats the point.
The spice was pleasant and not unbearable. It leaves a burn in your tummy and I can see why this sandwich is used as a hangover cure. As one site mentioned, it doesnt cure the hangover, it just shifts your attention to other parts of your body.
If you search on the web, the food network and recipe sites dont match the ingredients of the sandwich. Some recipes have avocado, others have beans. However, it does match the description of the sandwich on travel sites.
The year old restaurant is owned by a husband and wife. The wife and her mother are from Guadalajara and do the cooking. I like the Nicaraguan husband who takes the orders. He likes talking about the food and answering questions about the ingredients. He also will warn you about heat in a dish and not automatically dumb down the flavor.
On the weekends you can get the Guadalajara version of pozole with hand made tortillas. The owner said the version from that region is red and has different spices.
Also, there are additional flavors of aqua frescas on the weekend. In addition to the usual house made horchata (creamy and sweet) and tamarido, they might have honeydew or pineapple.
I also tried the Torta Cubano. It is on a nice round soft roll cut in half and grilled lightly inside. It is filled with ham slices, Swiss cheese, chopped roasted pork, bacon pieces, tomato, jalapeño, shredded lettuce, onion and mayo The juices from the pork saturated the bottom of the roll, turning it an orangey color. While not the classic grilled version, this was a tasty torta, each bite with a different combo of the filling. This is a busy sandwich in terms of flavors. Very nice, Id order it again. I might have developed a new craving.
The torta Hawaiana is the Cubano with pineapple.
Standard Mexican menu. In addition to the Pozole there is birria and pozole on the weekends. They have tocos dorado (fried shells) fot $1.
There is a card that you can have stamped on each visit. After 9 visits you get a free lunch.
The room is cheery. It is painted in red and pink with knick knacks from Guadalajara on the walls. There is a rather nice portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is like many of the small working class restaurants found in parts of Mexican cities that the tourists dont frequent.
One gallon plastic bags of water were tied to the overhead ceiling fans. I was told they keep away the flies. It seemed to work as the door was opened and there were no flies in the restaurant.
Reds Sea Food
2207 MacDonald Avenue (at 22nd)
10 9 Monday thru Friday
8 10 Saturday, Sunday