It’s impossible to stay clean while eating a torta ahogada. Smothered in a ladleful of zesty red sauce, the pork-filled sandwich—a beloved specialty of the Mexican city of Guadalajara—is essentially the French dip’s evil twin: a meaty, messy, spicy delight that will have you grabbing for napkins by the fistful. At Tapatia Mexican Food, a cramped, strip mall sandwich shop near Mar Vista, co-owners and Guadalajara expats Francisco Belmonte and Angela Barajas flawlessly capture the flavors of their hometown hoagie, using crusty fresh-baked rolls called birote salado and juicy carnitas fried in wide metal vats known as cazos.
But the kicker, of course, is the tomato-rich, oregano-infused, deep red sauce poured over the top (ahogada means “drowned” in Spanish), which soaks through just enough to soften the dense bread without causing it to disinte-grate. A heap of pickled red onion comes on the side, along with a squeeze bottle of piquant chile de arbol salsa to add a punch of heat, but the accessory you really need is a foam cup filled with ice-cold, house-made tejuino. A mixture of fermented corn, lime, and brown sugar, the tangy frothed beverage—another traditional Guadalajaran treat—handily tames the richness of this finger-staining delicacy.
Tapatia Mexican Food, 4506 Inglewood Blvd., Culver City, 424-289-0044
RELATED: The Cuban Sandwich at This Silver Lake Spot Was Just Named Best in the World
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.