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Vitamina T: Mexico City Style Tostadas at the Mercado Olympic
The Mercado Olympic does it again, delivering a primo version of this street food staple
Even more delicious than Taco Tuesday, our weekly segment showcases the best doses of vitamina T, or vitamin T, Mexico’s street slang for the most coveted comfort foods that begin with the letter T. This would have been great on Sesame Street, but we beat them to the punch—here’s this week’s taste of vitamin T from the streets of L.A.
This isn’t the first time, nor is it the last time you’ll read about a stand at the Mercado Olympic here—there are so many stars from that thriving street food scene, that it would be an injustice to stop with just one. Tostadas don’t receive much love in this town due to the fact that we don’t have a serious tostada culture. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced seafood tostadas in Ensenada from La Guerrerense, or tostadas of pickled pig’s feet and skin in the highland of Jalisco, or the excellent tostadas de guisado in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City piled high with tinga, beef hoof, or salpicon (diced meat).
Tostadas aren’t just large tortilla chips for eating ceviche, but a genre unto themselves equal to the best street foods in Mexico. I was fortunate to run into a woman at the Mercado Olympic this past weekend who had a coffee shop-style chalkboard menu on the curb advertising tinga. Tinga is spicy meat, usually beef or chicken in a chipotle sauce—it’s a simple dish, and an inexpensive street food—no, you shouldn’t be paying $27 spicy meat, even if it’s on Melrose.
The tostada lady is only out on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3p.m. for now, and will be doing a different guisado each week, as she’s trying to slowly build up a regular clientele.
The tostada begins with a thin layer of refried beans then the sweet, smoky, moist tinga is spread generously around the perimeter. The dish is dressed with shredded lettuce, Mexican cream, a chile de arbol and roasted tomato salsa, and a sprinkling of cotija cheese. When you take that first bite the foundation crumbles in your mouth as the juices of the tinga, cream, and salsa combine temperatures, huge flavors, and viscosities in slow motion.
You can get a pair of the tostada of the day for only $5, which will leave you with plenty of money for the bucket of Corona piñata.
Tostadas Estilo D.F.
E. Olympic at Ceres on the south side of the street
Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.