As much as it’s been a bull market lately for Mexico City-style tortas, the pambazo scene is rather bearish at the moment. It’s been years since the dueling divas of Breed Street Nina Garcia and Carmen Castellano ruled Boyle Heights, and sure, you can still find Mexico’s famous chile-stained torta around town, but it’s hard to find one that measures up to the brilliance of Nina and Carmen’s renditions. Pambazos are special tortas that are found at stands—as opposed to torterias or sandwich shops—serving quesadillas, gorditas, huaraches, tacos and other comforting masa-based delights.
Tacos D.F. in South Gate is one such house of antojitos, specializing in the hearty street foods of Mexico City complete with animated hostel-style D.F. landmarks painted on the walls, like Plaza Garibaldi, Parque Alameda and Bellas Artes. Despite the kitschy décor, the street foods here are serious, like huaraches served with a fried egg on top, traditional enchiladas, squash-blossom quesadillas made from fresh masa, and excellent pambazos.
The pambazo at Tacos D.F. is a scorched crimson roll drenched in chile guajillo sauce and filled with chorizo and potatoes, queso blanco, shredded lettuce and Mexican cream. The roll is cooked on a flat top until it has some char and crispiness to contrast with the mashed insides, giving off concentrated flavors of pleasurable spice and dried fruit. The good thing about a great pambazo is that, whether your fortunes are up or down, it’s always a good time to buy.