Everyday Eats: Tortas at El Paisa
Skip the tacos and try the torta at this Sherman Heights Mexican restaurant.
The tacos and burritos at Tacos El Paisa are great, about that you'll get no argument. But, if the meat is the main attraction, the torta can just as easily be the way to go. Here's why: for $5.99, you get a heaping pile of protein topped with avocado, cheese, and tomato on a soft, toasted bun, plus a side of fries.
Tortas come with every meat imaginable, ranging from carne asada and pollo asado, to carnitas, but for me, it's all about the al pastor-- little bits of crisp, yet juicy marinated pork sliced off the perpetually spinning vertical rotisserie. The marinade, made with pineapple, chilies, and a splash of vinegar, permeates the pork, giving it a sweet and spicy flavor with a hint of bitterness. Did I mention you get a lot of it? It's true; the meat is so generously portioned that bun can hardly hold it all. Pork falls out the front of the sandwich, spilling on to the fries... which is exactly how I discovered the best possible way to eat it.
First, load up the pork with salsa, some of the jalapeno peppers, and a good squeeze of lime. Then, get eating, and don't worry about the bits of meat that are bound to topple out, or if the bread breaks apart a little. Half way through, you can ditch the bread and empty all of that pork, avocado, tomato, and cheese directly on to the crispy spuds for the second course: al pastor fries.
If you can manage dessert, the tortilleria next door has an awesome selection of paletas for a buck a piece. It's the same brand you'll find at Albertson's, but the flavors are the more interesting, including traditional options like horchata, jamaica, and rum raisin -- though I have to say, I'm partial to the cookies and cream.
Tacos El Paisa is located at Imperial and 25th, in Sherman Heights (map)
About the author: Erin Jackson is obsessed with finding the best cheap and tasty eats in San Diego. Keep up with her other food finds on EJeats.com.