The torta just might be one of the most delicious sandwiches on the planet (okay, we haven't had all of the sandwiches on the planet and banh mis are really good too but, for the next five minutes, the torta is the best) and it's also probably one of the most overlooked sandwiches on Mexican restaurant menus.
Savory meat and bean filled sandwiches with creamy avocado and grilled onions on super soft Telera rolls -- our mouths are watering just thinking about the awesomeness of the torta!
Which brings us to this week's battle. We decided to take the Torta Cubana from the almost famous torta house Los Reyes de la Torta, and one of Phoenix's favorite bakery/market/lunch spots, La Tolteca.
Can the Los Reyes Torta take down the Tolteca Torta? Let's find out.
In This Corner: Los Reyes de la Torta
The Set Up: This decade-old Sunnyslope Mexican restaurant received its fifteen minutes of fame back in 2010 when Adam Richman of Travel Channel's Man vs. Food made an appearance to take down the massive Torta del Ray.
For this battle, we skipped the 2lb giant and went for something a little more manageable: the Cubana. Ham, cheese, and pork sirloin with tomato, onions, jalapeño and avocado all on a fresh roll.
The Good: The super soft bread was packed full of fresh thick slices of tomato, crunchy grilled onions, and grilled ham with melted cheese. The sandwich was the perfect-sized lunchtime meal and we didn't feel like we were going to slip into a food coma after devouring it.
The Bad: We could have definitely done without the pork sirloin and we would have loved to have traded the pickled jalapenos for fresh slices. The meat was dry and flavorless and we ended up yanking it off our sandwich halfway through. We also ditched the pickled jalapenos because they just didn't go with the rest of the sandwich.
In The Other Corner: La Tolteca
The Set Up: Located on the outskirts of downtown Phoenix, La Tolteca has been serving folks since 1947. The market not only feeds hungry lunch crowds but also makes a beautiful assortment of pastries including our favorite Mexican treat, the churro.
La Tolteca's menu doesn't exactly give descriptions of the food on their menu so we blindly ordered their version of the Torta Cubana thinking it would be similar to the Los Reyes torta. We should have been suspicious when the girl at the counter asked twice if we were sure we want everything on the sandwich.
The Good: Holy mole this thing was giant. Ham, carne asada, beans, chorizo, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and guacamole? We watched them make our sandwich and our jaws dropped when we saw them put the whole thing together. We had no idea La Tolteca was going to cram this much stuff between two pieces of house made bread. The result was bursting with flavor from the greasy chorizo and the addition of the egg made us feel like we were eating breakfast instead of a giant lunch.
The Bad: We're not sure how anyone can actually eat more than two bites of this beast. We had to use a fork and knife just to get through the two bites we could stomach. The greasy was literally oozing out of the soaked bread and it would have been impossible to actually pick this sandwich up.
The Verdict: Los Reyes de la Torta wins the crown in this battle. Even though these two versions of the Torta Cubana were as different as night and day and we loved the flavors of the Tolteca Torta, we couldn't handle the messiness and the grease so we went with the Reyes Torta for its neatness and manageable size. We'll be back to La Tolteca to try a more manageable torta one day but for now we're sticking with the tried and true Los Reyes.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.