CHEFS AND RESTAURATEURS

Lety Galván | Tortas Bravas

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Add tortas ahogadas to the list of invaluable items that the state of Jalisco has contributed to Mexican gastronomy, along with birria and tequila, of course. Essentially, it is a torta that uses a special sourdough birote salado (extraordinarily crusty and yeasty, similar to a baguette) bread indigenous to Guadalajara. Like the Sourdough breads of San Francisco or the pizza crusts of New York, some say that authentic pan salado can only be made in Guadalajara. That is, until someone like Lety Galván cracked the crust code and started baking the signature pan salado birote rolls in Downey and opened up an entire restaurant devoted to the Tapatío (as in native of Guadalajara, not the bottled hot sauce) torta specialty.

Traditionally, they are stuffed with caramelized pork carnitas and a smear of pinto beans, but here, they give you an option of chicken, panela cheese or carne asada, making it equally suitable for vegetarians too. The tortas are then drowned in a fiery tomato and chile de árbol thin salsa and then topped with pickled red onions. The bread eventually soaks up the fierce salsa and makes for a panzanella-like eating experience that may require a fork and knife. Take note: When paired with a tall cup of whatever agua fresca they have that day (we had a pulpy strawberry one that was amazing), this torta is especially heavenly after a night of drinking.