Food-truck fare is about as foreign to my diet as leafy greens—mainly, because Im ideologically opposed to driving to a mobile café, only to grub standing up, or perched at an electrical box, for a meal priced the same as an eatery with a storefront, seats, table-top napkins and a John. The roach coachs purpose has largely been hijacked by a new, cool generation of food-truck owners who arent in the business of catering to customers looking for a quick, cheap bite in an area devoid of food choices. Instead, Salmon Ellas Fish Truck tweets its location, and you have to go there. Bah!
But there are trucks that were around before the Food Network deemed it a hot trend, and El Gallito Tortas Ahogadas (1008 Industrial Blvd. in Chula Vista) is one of em. Ill happily drive south for one of its authentic Guadalajaran sandwiches, because theyre better than any version Ive had from a real restaurant. Plus, there are picnic tables.
There are two drowned sandwiches to choose from; the namesake is covered with a bright tomato sauce that gets its heat from chile de arbol, and the other, Famoso Lonche Gemma ($7), is doused with a creamier sauce thats smoky with chipotle peppers. The latter also gets ribbons of mayo squirted across it, as if its not rich enough.
If you order the original torta ($7), youll be asked whether you want it mild, medium or hot. The medium nearly melted my face off, and I like it hot, so consider yourself warned.
The tortas are prepared fast—while youre still standing at the order window—and they come on a plate thats covered with a plastic bag. When youre done, simply peel the messy plastic right into the trash can. Feel free to lift this idea from El Gallito and never do dishes at home again.
Shredded pork loin fills a distinctive bollilo roll—crusty with a slight toughness to its exterior and a salty, chewy center that gets a slathering of refried beans. Its the ideal bread to drown in sauce, although its better if you come famished and ready to chow, because the second half will get soggy if you dont dive right in and finish within 10 minutes. Needless to say, dont even think about take-out.
If Phils BBQ does one thing right, its the signature table-top roll of paper towels. This would be a welcome touch at El Gallito, where you get just one sheet that, by the meals end, is as saucy as the torta you just ate. Pro tip: Bring your own wet wipes.
Typically in America, if somethings served wet, its to be eaten with a fork and knife. Here, the torta comes with a fork and spoon; you should pick the sandwich up, lick your hands between gasps of air and then spoon the remaining, fiery sauce and stray pieces of meat into your mouth. Oh, and dont forget to say si when asked if youd like onions; theyre flavorfully marinated, full of oregano and complement the spicy torta to a tee.