“I’m sorry, my friend. After tomorrow no more tortas you,” is probably one of the more depressing things I’ve heard the jovial Galdino “Tortas” Molinero, the Mexican sandwich- and soccer-obsessed genius ever say. It was back in late October when his truck’s license expired. So I was very glad to learn from my amigo Jeff Orlick that Tortas has been operating out of window adjacent to Juan Bar on Roosevelt Avenue for several months. Which brings us to the subject of today’s post, the pambazo, an off menu special that appears nowhere on the list of the Mexico City native’s roster of more than a dozen gargantuan tortas.
The first step in making a pambazo ($6) is dunking the bread briefly in a guajillo chili sauce, dying it a reddish-orange and infusing it with a gentle heat. The bread, also known as pambazo, is then fried for a bit on the griddle and then filled with a mixture of potatoes and chorizo. It’s topped with crema, queso fresco, and, in my case, a lashing of fiery red salsa.
Unlike Galdino’s other sandwiches, which employ everything from head cheese to chorizo omelets and hot dogs, there is only one type of filling. “This is the original style, the way we do it in Mexico City,” he says. It is dainty compared to some of his other creations, notably the football sized Torta Puma, but no less messy or delicious. The bread—crunchy and fried in parts, soft in others, but possessed of a nice heat throughout—just barely holds up to the hash-like filling of potatoes and crumbled sausage. I’m not sure whether they eat this bad boy for breakfast in Mexico City, but I like to think of it as the best, and messiest, Mexican breakfast sandwich I’ve ever eaten under the 7 train.
Juan Bar, 96-15 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights