On a recent layover in Mexico City, after catching a redeye out of Tijuana, there was only one thing on my mind—not the fact that I’d only slept three and a half hours, or that I’d be arriving to Cuba tired, but a torta stuffed with red and green chilaquiles from a famous street corner in Condesa. The torta de chilaquil, or Mexican sandwich filled with soft, stewy chilaquiles, is to Mexican comfort food what James Gadson is to beats 2 and 4. I arrived 45 minutes early to La Esquina del Chilaquil and took the honored position of first in line for a sandwich of a thin, golden brown milanesa and a scoop each of green and red chilaquiles anointed with refried beans, Mexican cream, and salty cheese.
The hallowed corner of Alfonso Reyes and Tamaulipas is where the torta de chilaquil was born more than 25 years ago—an iconic Mexico City grinder that’s found its way on the menu at Jimmy and Andy Shaw’s Torta Company, located at the Fig and 7th shopping center in Downtown L.A.. It’s listed as the milanesa de pollo con chilaquiles verdes, but make no mistake, this is the torta de chilaquil, with Torta Company’s version having more milanesa in each bite thanks to a thicker cut of meat than its Mexico City counterpart.
The green, zesty chilaquiles take a back seat to the breaded meat, more like a luxurious condiment with a little more chew than its Mexico City inspiration since the chilaquiles are made to order here in L.A. rather than sitting in a bin. You might not be willing to sacrifice a much-needed catnap for a pair of cramped metro trips and a long queue for a sandwich, but one bite of this torta de chilaquil from the Shaw brothers will help realign your priorities.