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The Master

Image: Alice Levitt

Tortas get a bad rap. Or worse yet, they often get no rap. Most of us can agree that fresh tortillas or a steaming tamale are simply more fun than a humble bolillo roll. But especially now that a few chilly days have finally worked their way into our bones, sometimes a toasted sandwich piled with fatty ingredients is wholly necessary.

Enter Tortas El Angel. There are 16 varieties of the stacked hot sandwiches at the odd little sit-down spot. Diners can dine below the fellow above, as I did, or settle in next to a recreation of ancient Egyptian art or the Virgen de Guadalupe. Either way, they can keep up to date on whatever Mexican fútbol game is playing on the TVs.

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My dining partner wouldn't stop staring at me, but at least he was quiet.

Image: Alice Levitt

I preferred to focus on trying not to make a mess of myself as I scooped up the thin salsa verde with some chips. Both were disappointing, but the tamarindo (offered along with limonada and horchata, among other rotating aguas) was tart with just the right amount of sweetness to temper it.

All tortas are excessive by nature. After all, the bread (in El Angel's case, a fluffy telera roll) is typically griddled before being piled with a diversity of toppings that would make an American deli sandwich blush. At El Angel, lettuce, tomatoes and onions are joined by a layer of refried beans, avocado, jalapeño slices and a splash of vinaigrette. It's possible to remain fairly moderate when it comes to fillings, say grilled fish or fajita beef and cheese. I went the opposite route, choosing the sandwich with the most different meats on it.

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Chips, salsa and tamarindo.

Image: Alice Levitt

The Master combines thin slices of roasted pork leg with lightly breaded beef milanesa, tangy chorizo and... Yes, those are Vienna sausages. With so many fillings, each bite is different, like a meat-and-veggie Gobstopper. And the sandwiches are of a size that could almost characterize them as everlasting. I ordered the smaller of two sizes (options are "grande" or "jigante") and nearly finished with some effort. The pickled carrots and jalapeños on the side may have aided my digestion.

The size of the sandwich didn't stop me, however, from heading a few doors over to Ideal Bakery & Coffee Shop for some after-lunch pan dulces. But that's another story.

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Come for the sandwiches, stay for the taxidermy at Tortas El Angel.

Image: Alice Levitt

 

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