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La Catrina Tortas Gigantes


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#21 ExtraMSG

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 10:03 AM

To a Mexican, a torta cubana is just a kitchen sink sandwich. I think Mexico City has the most expansive torta culture I've seen in all of Mexico. There are places that have dozens of names for their sandwiches, just like Carnegie Deli. They'll constantly change them, too. I remember several years ago seeing all the pop stars like Britney Spears having a sandwich with jamon -- in other words, leg. It'd probably take some real digging in Spanish language sites to figure out the origin.

It's worth remembering, though, that "cuban sandwich" is an American term, not a Cuban one. (I remember ordering a "Thai iced tea" for probably Leopoldo in Thailand and embarassingly thinking, they probably just call it "iced tea" -- or cha yen -- here.) In Cuba, it's a "mixto" or "medianoche". And the sandwich is only about 100 years old. I wouldn't be surprised if in Mexico it was started as a dis against Cubans, either making fun of the mix of ingredients -- ham, pork, cheese, pickle -- or just an expansion of the idea.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#22 BigDaddy

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:24 AM

For those who don't know even rudimentary Spanish, medianoche is midnight, which explains the fatty deliciousness of the sandwich. I always wondered why I got looked at funny when I used the term rather than cuban sangwidge, now I know. They are best with a strong sugary coffee sometime late at night.

Huh, Mexicans and Cubans don't get along? Next you'll be claiming they both make fun of others, whereas I know the high regard they have for Salvadorans. Try managing a print shop (or restaurant) in LA for a full cultural immersion. It was a gas, though, you just haven't lived until you've heard a muy indio busboy muttering in Yiddish.

I now return the hijacked thread from Cuba and LA to its rightful spot on 82nd.

#23 jennifer

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 09:35 PM

I agree with BD re Bunk & Pambiche's Cubano. Bunk is the best I've had since living in Portland. I went to Pambiche a few times years ago and was disappointed. I don't get the popularity of that place, even if I didn't know what authentic Cuban food was supposed to taste like. As far as nomenclature, it's always called a Medianoche in Miami. A Cuban Sandwich down there is something like an Italian sub sandwich, but Cuban style. Totally different. And yes, the sweet sludgy Cafe Cubano is a must with a medianoche at midnight. Mmmmmmmmmm. :angry:

#24 FoodKid

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 11:47 PM

I've had the Cubanita twice now in the last two weeks, and as much as I want to like it, I just can't get into it. I enjoy all of the flavors that come together, but it is just too rich with all the meat, cheese, and eggs. It just ends up making me feel lousy when I finish eating. I really enjoyed the salsas there as well as the tacos, but it's a little farther than I'd like to drive for a taco. I figure I'll stick to Los Gorditos' for my tacqeria fix(I dig their encebollado tacos), but I'll try my luck with La Catrina again in a few months.

#25 gustoeater

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 10:55 AM

It looks like La Catrina (Tortas Gigantes) has moved again, I think the second time since the new year. They are now across the street in the back of a bar parking lot next to the McDonalds at Lamphier St. They have picnic tables but dont seem to have the covered area they had when they were in the parking lot next to Stuff. There is also a sign seeking other carts and there is already a coffee cart there, so perhaps the owners are trying to set up a deep SE pod w/ La Catrina as the anchor.

#26 ExtraMSG

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 11:02 PM

Thanks for the heads up.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#27 EvaB

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 11:29 PM

I love this "cart." I am not a huge meat sandwich fan (certain smoked meat products excepted!), but I get their huevos y queso torta with pickled jalapenos, avocado, salsa, etc. One thing I like about the La Catrina tortas is that they don't seem to come with beans--at least not automatically. Another thing I have noticed is that the character of the torta bun seems to vary. The last time I went (they were still at 82nd and just south of Johnson Creek) the bun was perfect. A little crusty and with enough "strength" to hold up for the duration of the sandwich eating process. Where the hell is Lamphier St?
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there are flavors in my freezer you have never seen before,
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#28 ExtraMSG

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 12:56 AM

Just a bit north of where it has traditionally been, near Otty. See here:

http://maps.google.c...J59C-ImStVNtSzA
La Catrina

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#29 Emile

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 10:27 AM

La Catrina #3 is now open on Alberta, right next to the pimp my ride garage.

#30 ExtraMSG

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 11:37 AM

La Catrina #3 is now open on Alberta, right next to the pimp my ride garage.


Saw it the other day, about 15th & Alberta, right?

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#31 Emile

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 12:47 PM

La Catrina #3 is now open on Alberta, right next to the pimp my ride garage.


Saw it the other day, about 15th & Alberta, right?


Right, the body shop is 1451 NE Alberta, and the truck is in the side lot just to the east of that building.

#32 sacman

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 08:29 PM

Last night on the way home from a dinner downtown, mrs. sacman and I stopped at the 82nd La Catrina for a late-night snack. The cart was super-busy. We ordered six tacos, and it took over 30 minutes to get them. We only received four of the six we had ordered, but it was just one guy working the cart. He was doing everything: taking the orders, cooking the food, and cashing out customers. And there were a LOT of customers; at least 15-20 people there.

The tacos were very good, but I wanted to come back today with my camera for lunch.

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I ordered two chorizo tacos and a buche torta.

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The tacos were very good. The tortillas were prepackaged, but that's the case at most taco trucks I've been to. I dressed these tacos myself with a spicy tomatillo salsa they had available.

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The torta was awesome.

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The bread was rich and fresh and held up well. The meat was tender and mild. It was packed with grilled onions and peppers, avocado, and cheese. The only criticism I have is that it was a bit too rich. Oh, it was huge, too (and I got the "small" one)! I thought the sandwich was very neatly prepared.

This afternoon they were busy as well. However, they had three people in the cart, so my food was delivered much quicker.

I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to hitting this cart. I'm glad I did, as it's turning out some very good food.

The next time I go, I'm going to get the Torta Hawaiiana. It's got ham and fresh pineapple slices.

-sacman
- I am an employee of a Portland-based firm that has business relationships with several local food-related businesses.

#33 ExtraMSG

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 10:41 PM

I don't know that I've ever seen less than two people in the 82nd one. The Stark one often only has one person. That would bite. Even in Mexico, the stands probably are more than 75% machine-made tortillas (though usually from fresh masa rather than masa harina, in my experience). The difference is how well they refresh them. The suadero/fritangas and barbacoa stands will dip them in a little of the grease and heat them. The asada stands will often put them directly on the grill or the coals and char them. La Cartina often does the former.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#34 sacman

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 12:46 AM

The other day me and my current wife went to La Catrina again. We got a few tacos, and I had a sandwich.

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Chorizo. The cart lists this as longaniza, which I tried to order. Just ask them for chorizo, and you'll get it.

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Buche.

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Carnitas.

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Lengua.

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Here's my torta. I ordered it with carnitas.

I swear, there's got to be a bunch of butter in the bolillo. It's just so rich and has a great mouthfeel. Oh, it's probably lard...

This is a solid, solid cart. Too bad I'm moving further away from it.

-sacman
- I am an employee of a Portland-based firm that has business relationships with several local food-related businesses.

#35 nervousxtian

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 05:13 PM

Current wife?

#36 gustoeater

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 12:54 PM

as opposed to the ex-wife he goes to Taco trucks with. Duh!

#37 sacman

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 05:54 PM

Current wife?


She hates it when I call her that.

-sacman
- I am an employee of a Portland-based firm that has business relationships with several local food-related businesses.

#38 Jill-O

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 06:18 PM


Current wife?


She hates it when I call her that.

-sacman


Ha!

This alleged wife of yours we have never met...

;o)
Never give up! Never surrender!

#39 bradluen

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 09:45 AM

Made a pilgrimage a few Saturdays ago. My cabeza taco appetiser was bursting with as much beefiness as I've encountered anywhere in my beloved Fruitvale, Oakland truck scene. It would not reflect badly on Portland if this was the best truck taco in the city.

I ended up wussing out and only getting the Cubanita. When I asked myself what components the sandwich would be better off without, for a few bites I thought the hot dog was superfluous, but no, it serves a definite textural purpose. The torta was delicious, but I can't imagine wanting to have it again in the next ten years or so -- unless I were *really* drunk, but I hope that I wouldn't be that drunk more frequently than every ten years or so.

#40 philthyanimal

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:23 PM

of the 5 or 6 salsa verde's i've had from a truck...theirs is easily my favorite. what i like most is the strong heat from the fresh jalapeno. a lot of salsa verdes tend to be pretty mild. i like how the lime and the jalapeno really comes to the forefront on their salsa.