Essential T: Torta Cubana at Super Tortas D.F.

Finally! Where to find Mexico City-style tortas in L.A.

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. 

Great sandwiches are made by great sandwich makers. It’s all in the construction, which affects how you taste each ingredient when you take a bite.

Until this past weekend, I had not encountered a Mexican eatery in L.A. that served tortas—Mexican sandwiches—made by a genuine tortero, or skilled torta maker. The places I’ve encountered that sell Mexico City-style sandwiches or the famous cemitas poblanas served in a sesame seel roll (both are made by sandwich pros in Mexico) have been offering an amateur product: disheveled heaps lodged between a pair of stale buns.

This past Sunday, while I was wandering through South Central’s labyrinthine urban food court, I spotted the Super Tortas D.F. trailer. Its menu includes Mexico City classics like the rusa (Russian) with beef milanesa, pork leg, and Oaxacan cheese; the tongue-in-cheek lamabada with pork leg, eggs and chorizo; and the king of all tortas chilangas (Mexico City-style), the torta cubana, or Cuban torta.

But it wasn’t just the impressive menu of 14 different tortas that got my mouth watering—it was the man on the grill, putting together oversized tortas with precision and speed. This tortero comes from Mexico City where he began his training nine years ago along with his brother, who still works a stand back in Mexico’s capitol.  

Super Tortas D.F.’s cubana starts with a giant, crusty telera roll and one of the best milanesas around—super thin and flavorful. Then, they layer on some sliced pork leg, ham, hot dog wieners, yellow and white cheeses, vegetables, a smear of mayo and refried beans, sliced avocado, a chorizo omelet, chiles chipotles, and pickled jalapeños.

A street food star is born. True Mexico City-style street tortas have arrived.

Super Tortas D.F. serves Thursday through Sunday from noon until 11 p.m. Super Tortas D.F., E. 41st St. just off the southwestern corner of E. 41st St. and S. Central Ave., South L.A.