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But it is El Chiltepin's non-traditional fare that can be the most fun and — when it works — the most flavorful. Hernandez's latest creation, Ricas Patadas, features two tortillas fused together and filled with the exceptional al pastor then deep-fried to a golden brown and topped with onion, cilantro, mozzarella, and guacamole. Crispy and multi-flavored, I could see this tasty snack right at home in street food Bizarro World. And Hernandez tells me he didn't just come up with the Montada, his version of the Mexican pizza; he dreamt it up — literally.
"We were in Las Vegas at a big party with rock 'n' roll stars," he says. "There were all these wonderful snacks on the table that we were eating. I asked someone what they were and they told me, 'Montadas.' Then I woke up and I made them for the restaurant."
Addictively tasty, the Montada arrives as melted mozzarella cheese between two crispy tortillas topped with more melted mozzarella, carne asada, bits of salty bacon, and jalapeños. Just as tasty and new to El Chiltepin (naturally) is the al pastor Montada, which swaps out the steak with pieces of the slightly sweet and tender pork.
5602 S. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Category: Restaurant >
Region: South Phoenix
Like its menu, the El Chiltepin building also is in a state of change. Previously more a fast-food stand, Hernandez has kept the drive-thru but is covering the wraparound patio, so, by next summer, guests can sit at one of the tile-topped tables in a brightly colored air-conditioned room. To distinguish itself from the surrounding Mexican restaurants, its cartoon mascot, El Chiltepin, can be found on signs inside and out — directing guests to the drive-thru (not as fast as most, since the food is freshly made) and inviting folks to "Enjoy our food!" and, at the front of the building, happily cutting a slice of pork from an al pastor spit.
"We don't like repetition," Hernandez tells me. "These are our own creations, and you won't find them anywhere else."
Spoken like a true mad scientist.