Due mainly to widespread availability and a high floor / high ceiling situation, the torta is the sandwich archetype I consume most frequently. On balance I think that’s a good thing, as a great many tortas are quite tasty, but it is not without its downside. This is the peril of any obsession, I think, that the more you learn, explore and experience, the more unforgiving your comparisons get. What I’m driving at is that this wasn’t a bad sandwich, but it wasn’t good either. Specifically, it was a far cry from what would be available at Mexico Bakery #2 or Los Reyes de la Torta. Los Reyes are a good distance away from my home base, so thoughts of them tend to be wistful and with a more romantic sense of regret. Mexico Bakery is very close by, though, and so when consuming a sandwich such as the one I got at Adelita’s I felt the sharper sting of a lost opportunity. This was a decent sandwich, but a little bit more effort and I would have had a very good one. The lettuce was crisp, the guacamole as tasty as guacamole usually is, the steak seasoned well enough and though the roll could have been better a few moments on the griddle gave it a decent crunch. In spite of all that, though, I have heard the songs of tortas much more lyrical than this one, and so I came away disappointed. This is no fault of the establishment, and originally I hesitated, sullying the internet with negative words they don’t deserve. But this is On Sandwiches, and sometimes we must overcome our hesitation in search of truths.
And make no mistake, friends, this is not a small issue. What this comes down to is the matter of habit versus experimentation. I could have headed downtown and gotten a torta at Mexico Bakery #2, and it would have been good. For that matter I could have made plans to travel to Arizona and gotten one that was truly spectacular. But I wanted to try a new establishment, even knowing that I might come away disappointed. This is an issue we must all confront virtually every time we set out to have a sandwich, and there is no easy answer. You could try as many places as possible, but you would be doing yourself a disservice by never returning to the truly great sandwiches. You could rely on a set of standby sandwiches, but you would be haunted by thoughts of opportunities wasted. Of course there’s a balance to be found between these two extremes, but what comfort is that? At every opportunity you feel the tug of both viewpoints, and there is never a hope of satisfying both. The best any of us can do, I suppose, is to weigh our options, trust our gut, and know that there will come a tomorrow, with another opportunity for a great sandwich.