Essential T: Super Taco de Cecina at Cemitas Poblanas Mi Magdalena

Super size my taco, please, Puebla-style!

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A.

Between Boyle Heights and East L.A. you’ll find most of the city’s cemitas poblanas trucks and fondas serving Puebla’s signature Mexican sandwich—and one of the most beloved tortas in Mexico—the cemita poblano.

A cemita poblana consists of an rustic sesame seed bun, a breaded milanesa cutlet, Oaxacan string cheese, chipotles or pickled red jalapenos, papalo (acrid herb used for seasoning), thin-sliced avocado, fresh onion, and a spread of re-fried beans. Most cemitas poblanas aren’t very good in L.A., due to the stale imported bread rolls, overcooked milanesas, industrial Oaxacan cheese or bland cheese, and poor sandwich assembly, but I’m always willing to give it a shot.

Cemitas Poblanas Mi Magdalena has been around for over a decade at their location on Indiana St., but just have been open for a couple of months on 4th St. at their newest location. The outer decor remains the same as the restaurant that formerly occupied the space, but the inside is shiny and new. Their cemita poblana is good—not great—but better than other better-known vendors so I turned my attention to another item on the menu that caught my eye, the super taco de cecina de res, or super salted beef taco.

The super taco de cecina de res lives up to its name: a large, huarache-shaped tortilla is loaded with black beans, sauteed potatoes, salted beef, Oaxacan cheese, avocado slices, a whole grilled cactus paddle, radishes, a pair of grilled Mexican green onions, and salsa to your liking. In Puebla, it’s known as a taco placero, or street vendor taco like the ones found in Atlixco, a city in Puebla famous for their cecina—to you and I, it’s a taco lover’s fun house piled on a tortilla.   Cemitas Poblanas Mi Magdalena, 3049 E. 4th St., Boyle Heights, 323-725-6471; 401 S. Indiana St., Boyle Heights, 323-266-6068