This post has been in the works since May 21, 2009, the first time I brought a camera to Cook's Tortas. After many visits with both my DSLR and little pink point-and-shoot over the course of a year, I still haven't tried everything, but I've made a valiant effort.
Cook's Tortas is an unassuming little mint-green-roofed building on Atlantic Avenue in Monterey Park, down the street from strip malls and across the street from Just Tires and Men's Wearhouse.
Mexican sandwiches in the heart of a Chinese-dominated neighborhood? It sounds weird, but don't let the location worry you.
For $7.29, you can get a delicious hearty sandwich and a small side. Several sandwiches on the ever-changing chalkboard are always available, but, more often than not, there are new offerings you have yet to sample. Aguas frescas, which also rotate regularly, are $1.99 for the regular size and $2.75 for the large size.
La Diabla -- grilled chicken, jalapeños, chile de arbol, habanero guacamole, cheese.
Hot, hot, hot. Like make-you-sweaty hot. Like digestive-issues-tomorrow hot.
Yummy Italian bread salad.
Bacalao -- Spanish-style cod, roasted red peppers, garlic, olives, all slow-cooked.
A taste of the Spanish sea in a convenient hand-held form. Deeeeelish.
Ahogada -- slow-cooked pork, spicy double dip.
One of my favorites. Spicy but not La Diabla-spicy. Tender. Juicy. Yum.
Perfect cool side for any of the spicy sandwiches.
Limonada agua fresca.
Mojito -- roasted pork, garlic mojo, slow-cooked onions.
The pork at Cook's Tortas is to die for, and the Mojito is no exception. This is an awesome flavorful pork option if you fear spicy stuff. The garlic mojo is wondrous.
Mole verde -- grilled chicken, onions, lettuce, pepita-tomatillo mole.
None of the chicken sandwiches are as rich as the pork and beef offerings, but this is a nice mild option for the less adventurous.
Choriqueso -- chorizo, melted cheese, fresh salsa, avocado.
Pambaso -- housemade chorizo, potatoes, jalapeños, lettuce, crema, chipotle.
Excellent chorizo-based sandwich -- better than the Choriqueso. More "oomph" because of the jalapeños and chipotle. More "ahh" because of the crema.
Strawberry lime agua fresca.
Milanesa -- breaded steak, tomato, jalapeño, mayo.
Solid sandwich. Breaded steak is usually a winner, but the beef can occasionally be a bit overdone.
Jamaica agua fresca.
Cook's Tortas makes a very good version.
Mi Ranchito -- nopalitos (cactus), steak, avocado, salsa, beans.
Disappointing mix of interesting ingredients. When I saw nopalitos on the chalkboard, I had to try the Mi Ranchito. Awkward combination of flavors. Didn't work for me.
Azteca -- chipotle cream, chicken, onion, lettuce.
Best chicken sandwich here probably because of the chipotle cream.
Peaches and cream.
I like getting fruit and cream when I order a spicy sandwich to balance things out.
Bombero -- steak, roasted red pepper mayo, avocado.
Not that great. Sort of boring.
Molcajete -- grilled steak, queso asado, hot salsa, frijoles.
Cuban -- ham, chicken, bacon, cheese, garlic, onions.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. This sandwich just has too much going on, and it's on the greasy side.
Cucumber lime agua fresca.
Pavo enchilado -- guajillo turkey, apple stuffing, black beans, salsa.
Bizarre sandwich. I only saw it once on the chalkboard and never saw it again. Good choice to nix this one.
Apples and cream.
Zacatecas -- chorizo seco, pico de gallo, salsa, avocado, jalapeño.
I love chorizo, but the only chorizo sandwich I truly adore at Cook's Tortas is the Pambaso. Sadly, the Zacatecas suffers from a dryness similar to that of the Choriqueso.
Turkey -- turkey breast, lettuce, cranberry, mayo, tomato, dijon mustard.
Snoozer. This is a Thanksgiving on a roll. This is a sandwich for your boring friends.
Grilled veggie -- zucchini, roasted peppers, grilled cheese, tomato, sweet onions.
A decent offering for your vegetarian friends. But really your vegetarian friends should cry themselves to sleep at night because they can't enjoy the out-of-this-world pork here.
Shrimp po' boy -- battered shrimp, lettuce, avocado, red onion remoulade.
Revelatory. Like Mexico meets New Orleans meets fresh-baked bread. A slight kick. A slight touch of cream. A big win.
BBQ chicken salad.
My friend Glam is a big fan of the salads at Cook's Tortas. She may be the only one on the planet. It's called Cook's Tortas, dear readers. Get a torta!
Sometimes the people behind the counter have a good sense of humor and/or are too lazy to write out the proper pork sandwich name.
I guess this extremely long post shows that I deserve this doodle. Oink!