A couple of weeks ago, I made one of my rare trips down to the Gaslamp and decided to stop by Bolillo Tortas, which has been getting some good play on some of the local blogs. I'd heard that they made a Torta Ahogada with birote (aka bolillo) from Guadalajara, which got my interest.
The place is pretty easy to find, right across the street from the Horton Grand Theatre on 4th Avenue.
I liked the sleek and modern look of the restaurant. The gentleman behind the counter was very polite and prompt. The prices looked like it had the Gaslamp mark-up and then some...... nine bucks for a Torta Ahogada seemed a bit more than steep. Even though it was pretty early in the morning, about a half past eight, I thought why not just go ahead and get the ahogada....hot sauce be damned. When I ordered, the guy behind the counter asked me to wait for a second to make sure they had the proper bolillo for the sandwich. He then verified what I had heard, the bread did come form Guadalajara. Eventually, the birotes were tracked down, and after paying over twelve bucks for a sandwich and a drink I had a seat outside.
Soon enough my sandwich arrived. It based on the looks and texture, instead of drowning the sandwich, the chile de arbol based sauce had been poured over the sandwich. Still it looked pretty good.
Until you noticed that it took up a bit more than 50% of the plate it was on. Compare the sandwich size to the bacon wrapped jalapeno beside it.......
So either this was a snack sized sandwich or that was the jalapeno that ate the Gaslamp wrapped in a belt sized slice of bacon. I'll let you guess which one it was. Still, if this was great, there would be no complaints.
First off, the bread was kind of gummy, with a texture of the heat and eat genre. The crust was more hard than crusty. It was by no means as good as the bread that El Gallito uses. The sauce was pretty mild for my taste, but I can understand.
The bacon wrapped jalapeno was barely marked from the grill and both the texture and taste was raw. The bacon was barely browned and thus had a rubbery texture, which gave you the feeling you were eating raw bacon. The corn was tender and seasoned well with Tajin.
Overall, a mixed bag, but I decided to return for a follow-up a week later. This time I went with the Torta Cubana ($9.75), usually a pretty hefty sandwich, which this was.
This was probably too much stuff for me as everything got pretty much lost in a big sloppy mess. The cheese actually pretty much overwhelmed everything. If you've ever go through my posts on tortas you'll find that I'm pretty much of a single protein kind of guy. I still didn't care for the bread which seemed too doughy. Don't get the steamed vegetables which was very bland, even with the salsas provided. This time, the jalapeno and the bacon were charred and crisp, so perhaps I visited too early the last time. I don't think you'll go hungry with this sandwich.
I really need to try the milanesa, chorizo, and other sandwiches. But I'm not sure how soon that will be. The service was very nice, but the prices are on the high side. When I mentioned this place to Karina, whose family is from Guadalajara, she sounded intrested. Until I told her the prices....."a torta ahogada should not be more than about seven bucks, max, US tourist prices even....."
417 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
Mon-Thurs 8 am - 12 am
Fri-Sat 8 am - 3 am
Sun 8 am - 12 am