One of my nicknames back home was “La Torta” because I was obsessed with “Mexican” tortas. “Torta” is a culinary term that has different meanings in different countries and can be a type of cake or bread. Growing up in California, I was surrounded by authentic Mexican Taquerias and at a young age discovered “Tortas Mexicanas” which are, in essence, sandwiches. They are typically served on a sandwich roll called a “birote”, which translates to “torpedo roll.” Served cold or hot, they are super delicioso and are often garnished with avocados, tomatoes, jalapeños and poblanos.
As you probably know by now, one of my favorite spots in South Tampa for authentic Mexican cuisine is Catrinas Cocina y Galeria located in the heart of Palma Ceia on MacDill. After eating there for the first time this past summer, I fell in love with their authentic dishes, colorful decor and their staff that treats my kids and I like familia. My first taste of this quaint place was their Guacamole Catrina which trumps any other guacamole I have had in Tampa. Made fresh to order and topped with succulent pieces of lobster, juicy shrimp, pomegranate seeds and Mexican cheese, it is my go-to comfort food. I took some to a few tailgating parties during this past football season, and it was a hit.
For months I had been wanting to try their “Torta Ahogada” which means, “Drowned Sandwich,” and finally made it happen last week. This spectacular creation is native of Guadalajara and consists of carnitas (braised pork) and refried beans stuffed in a heavenly cushion of fresh bread and then “drowned” with a savory red sauce and topped with fresh onions and served with two fried taquitos and a side of their luscious guacamole. Madre Santa is it good! It had been while since I last had a torta and this one exceeded my expectations. This is also an amazing hangover remedy and with Gasparilla just around the corner, I am sure many of you will be looking for some soothing food the following day.
I had the chance to chat with Chef Tis Meji about this authentic piece of heaven and learned a lot from her. According to Tis, “Es tipica de la ciudad de Guadalajada Jalisco Mexico. Estan hechas con un pan llamado, “birote salado” el cual es diferente al pan tradicional de mexico es un pan crujiente por fuera. Este tipo de pan no se ablanda tan facil como el pan regular, el pan esta relleno de frijoles refritos y carnitas de cerdo, esta cubierta con salsa de tomate y cebolla desflemada , se sirve con chile de arbol muy picante por el lado y dos taquitos dorados por el lado. Limon y porsupuesto es la perfecta compania de una cerveza bien fria este sandwich es conocido como remedio para la Resaca o cruda.” In essence this translates to: “This sandwich is typical in Guadalajada, Jalisco, Mexico. They are made with a bread called, “Birote”which is different from the traditional bread of Mexico in that it’s outer layer is crusty. This type of bread doesn’t soften as easy as regular bread. The bread is filled with refried beans and pork carnitas, then covered with tomato sauce and onion, served with very spicy chile de arbol and two gold taquitos on the side. This torta and fresh lime, of course, is the perfect companion for a cold beer. This sandwich is known as a hangover remedy.” Ay que rico! Just typing this makes me hungry.
If you are looking to travel to the beautiful city of Guadalajara via your taste buds, pop by Catrinas and taste a piece of Mexico. With an extensive menu of Mexican favorites and dishes exclusive to Catrinas, you will enjoy you meal in a beautiful setting. Viva Mexico, Viva Catrinas!
Con mucho amor,