My last outing at TLT Foods was truly a bizarre one, but their use of cotija cheese ensured I’d be back. TLT Foods has a strong Mexican influence, and their use of cotija shows a commitment to the depths of that possibility. It’s not something that’s in widespread use, and it’s unlikely to impress most people on name or reputation. Therefore, we can reason, it’s there because someone put a fair amount of thought into the sandwich. So, senseless execution aside, TLT Foods is doing something right.
The “Chorizo Smack” is chorizo, pee wee potatoes, guacamole and oxaca cheese on a telera roll, all coated in a guajillo pepper sauce. That is to say, it’s a pambazo. A Mexican sandwich archetype seen less frequently than the noble torta, the pambazo is a classic combination where the flavor profile has long ago lost all rough edges. Everything involved works remarkably well together, and all that’s left to anyone is to see the standard setup through. This is where TLT Foods falters a tad.
The standard pambazo is grilled, but left too long on the flat-top and the pepper sauce will quickly scorch. That gives the flavor a bitter undertone, something not so objectionable as to ruin the sandwich, but still unwelcome. A pattern seems to be in place at TLT Foods, where very good ideas meet questionable execution. I’ll likely be back again, but what was once wariness has crossed into distrust.