Torta Milanesa – Tacos Autlense, Story Rd, San Jose, CA

We return to the torta milanesa, previously seen herehere, and first here. I’m still searching for the perfect milanesa, and I’ve given up looking at counter-with-menu-board style establishments. There might be a winner out there, but I think I’m much more likely to find a long line of places with pre-fried ingredients getting soggy, waiting for me to show up. Better to go to an establishment with table service, wait a little longer, and get something made to order. That was what I got at Tacos Autlense, and it made a big difference. The beef was pounded incredibly thin, and if this was for reasons of cost control I’m not complaining. The result was an unbelievably crisp milanesa, with a deep brown crust. That was the high point of the sandwich, although the rest of it wasn’t bad at all. There was table cream, but not nearly so much as I found at Taqueria Tlaquepaque. It was just the right amount, with the creamy tang contrasting the well seasoned crisp of the steak quite well. The sandwich, like the one from Mexico Bakery, was primarily flavored by pickled jalapeño. That’s not a flavor I’m tremendously fond of, and the the vinegary heat kept me from enjoying the sandwich as much as I could. This same same sandwich presented with a good red sauce would be quite the number, I think. So it wasn’t a perfect torta, but it was a clear step up from some of the others I’ve had.

It occurs to me that I might be dooming myself to this sort of scenario. What are the odds that I manage to find a string of taquerias that builds ever slowly to a transcendent experience? It seems much more likely that I simple build a catalog of tortas eaten, they fall into some jumble of rankings, and an endless pile of “Good, but not great.” piles up. There are larger questions here that this sandwich doesn’t come close to settling, but I suppose that’s the world of sandwiches sometimes.