This past Sunday I had the opportunity to try Queens’ only Mexican restaurant specializing in foods from the Northwestern state of Sinaloa, a state that hitherto I’d only known as the birthplace of Mexican drug lord El Chapo. We only tried one dish from the aptly named Sinaloense, but what a dish. Chilorio estilo sinaloense is a heap of pork that’s been slowly cooked down for hours, then fried in lard, and lastly cooked in a ruddy concoction of chilies and other herbs and spices. The result is some of the most amazing Mexican pork I’ve ever had on Roosevelt Avenue. It had a glorious texture—not quite crunchy and not quite soft—and an amazing depth of flavor with notes of cumin, garlic, chilies and a not unpleasant vinegary acidity. “I’m coming back here for a torta estilo sinaloense,” I said to my pals as I perused the takeout menu between bites.
“Que es un torta estilo Sinaloense,” I asked the restaurant’s sole lunchtime employee yesterday as she did double duty as cook/waitress. When she described it as carne asada with egg and cheese—no doubt a fine torta—she saw the disappointment on my face. So she offered an even more Sinaloensean torta, one that combined chilorio with something called frijoles puercos Sinaloenses. Pork and porky beans on a torta? Si! Si, por favor!
The resulting sandwich might look a little dainty when compared to other tortas on La Roosie, but boy oh boy does it pack a lot of flavor. Those porky beans slathered on the bottom of the telera roll were enriched with cooked down sausage and sharp whole green olives. Next was a layer of that glorious chili-infused triple-cooked pork. All of it was topped off with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado. There was no cheese whatsoever. Not that I missed it as I dug into the sandwich that left a red stain on my fingers and a pleasant warmth on my palate.
As I paid the bill I wondered two things. Was this sandwich a favorite of El Chapo? And perhaps more important, does gorditas al gusto mean that I can get the deep fried corn cakes stuffed with chilorio? Because if it does, I know what’s for lunch mañana.
Sinaloense, 40-08 Case St., Elmhurst, 917-832-7797