Devouring a "little fat one," known as a gordita, is one of the joys of life. They resemble arepas or pupusas, and are filled with meat, cheese, onion, and sometimes cabbage, all stuffed in a thick tortilla.
We did the dirty work and tried gorditas at Gorditas El Tio and El Ranchero to see who makes the little fat ones the best in the Valley.
In This Corner: El Ranchero Mexicano
The Setting: Ranchero is so easy to miss if you're not looking closely. Just off the 51 freeway, the hole-in-the-wall serves up some serious Mexican food. Their menu is painted on the wall, with very inexpensive prices. Important note: Ranchero is cash only.
The Good: The tortilla was soft, with a hint of moisture. The gordita comes with meat, cabbage and cotija cheese, with a small side of salsa. The salsa really brings life to the gordita, although it is good on its own. The carne asada was tender, not chewy. And we there was no complaining over the $2.95 price.
The Bad: The gordita came out looking like a sope, with everything on top, not inside the tortilla. Sopes are hard to manage, and everything always falls off no matter how skilled you think you are. One of the best parts of gorditas is holding the little pockets of goodness.
In The Other Corner: Gorditas El Tio
The Setting: The restaurant sits in a strip mall, with bright orange walls and novelas showing on the TV. Gorditas makes their own fresas and raspados there, along with the other listings on their extensive menu.
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The Good: Two gorditas come with the combo, along with beans and rice. Meat, onion and cilanto fill the tortillas. Homemade tortillas are always a bonus, and these ones were hot off the comal. We got one carne asada and one carnitas gordita since the choice of meat is up to the customer. Both meats were fresh and tender.
The Bad: We were disappointed that our first bite was full of chunks of onion. Yes, they add flavor, but no, we didn't want an overload. The gorditas were a little dry and we had to add salsa, but even the salsa lacked flavor or any kick. The meats weren't very flavorful, either.
The Winner: El Ranchero takes the win in this battle. Even though our gorditas came out like sopes, our dish was more memorable than Gorditas El Tio, and had more dimension.