But things are getting better for torta lovers. Las Cazuelas serves a torta milanesa, a powerful chicken-fried steak sandwich with beans, avocado, sliced tomato, onion and jalapeno. Taqueria La Raza, 227 W. Allegheny Ave. (215-291-2941), serves the bulky sandwiches stuffed with grilled steak, shredded beef, chicken and pork.
These offerings are just the tip of the torta. Every Mexican region has its own variety. The torta milanesa comes from Aguilar's native Puebla. In Michoacan, they have a similar steak sandwich but forgo the beans. In Toluca, look for shredded beef, sour cream and lettuce. Stands in Mexico City feature tortas with cheese from Oaxaca.
In Southern California, surfers wolf down northern Mexican breakfast tortas stuffed with machaca, made from shredded beef jerky, fried with chilis, onion, tomatoes and scrambled eggs. Let's hope the torta wave continues to spread in Philly.
2 Mexican rolls, or kaiser rolls (wide Portuguese rolls sold at Super Fresh work well.)
1/2 pound flank steak, pounded thin and flat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tomato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup black beans, (If using canned beans, try Goya black bean soup.)
1 fresh jalapeno, sliced
1 tablespoon oil for frying
Beat the egg and pour into a deep plate. Cut meat in two pieces. Dip meat in egg bath and then dredge in the bread crumbs. Heat a frying pan and fry meat, about 5-8 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bread crumbs.
Slice bread in two. Spread mayonnaise on the roll. Place meat on the bread and pour beans on top. Add sliced onions, avocado, tomato and fresh jalapeno (to taste). Close the sandwich. Makes two.