Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Loncheria Otro Rollo
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
California has thousands of taco trucks. Most serve the same generic combination of meaty handheld Mexican dishes. But even if you arrived at the Chevron parking lot expecting Guadalajaran tortas ahogadas, Loncheria Otro Rollo will surprise you. You will experience new flavors and textures in Mexican food. And you will almost certainly stain your shirt.
If you really can’t abide an orange-splotched shirt, order lonches Ruben. It’s not drowned (ahogada) in sauce, just a tasty roast pork sandwich on a bolillo roll with pickled jalapenos, tomatoes, mustard, and crema. The roll is sourdough, airy and soft, made with artisan skill.
The drowned sandwiches are fun. Tortas ahogadas comes soaked with a richly salty, red-hot chili-tomato sauce and tart pickled onions. The salty, spicy, sour intensity is nearly exhausting, but compelling. It comes hot, medium or mild. When we asked for hot, the chef refused, offering us hot sauce only on the side. One taste and we understood. Medium is already painful. Hot is almost bitter with chilies. We ended up using some of the hot stuff anyway. We love a challenge.
As much as we like fiery traditional tortas ahogadas, lonches Gemma is the truck’s masterpiece. It’s a less famous Guadalajaran specialty, basically a tortas ahogadas but with cheese, drowned in creamy chipotle sauce and streaked with fresh cream. The sauce is somewhere between vodka sauce and smoky mole
Tacos de canasta (basket tacos) are a popular Mexican street food served from steamer baskets, like tamales. However, a half steamed corn tortilla can be like chewing on a placemat. But since the tortas and potato tacos here are so outrageously good, we rolled the dice and had to try one. The chicharrones inside were well fried and great slaw and salsa helped elevate the dish quite a bit. We are a step closer to liking them.
The best bet might be a combination plate, which pairs a half torta with two potato tacos — another specialty of the truck. They are folded up with unpeeled potatoes inside, covered with carnitas, drowned in spicy salsa, and finished with a sprinkle of Cotija cheese. These are almost as messy as the sandwiches … and just as good. Potato skin gives the filling a meatier texture. Pork, potato, and salad are a wonderful combination.
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