If you only eat one al pastor torta in Los Angeles, make it from King Torta. This sandwich shop on the border of Lincoln Heights and El Sereno doesn't win any points for presentation, either in their decor or their sandwich. From the outside, the beige stucco building looks completely unremarkable. Inside, it's all white tiles, Formica booths and the reek of antiseptic. By all rights, it ought to be another run-of-the-mill fast food joint. Instead, King Torta makes a regal sandwich.
The sandwiches are cheap, only $5. There's no fuss, no pretension. They're big and messy, the Sloppy Joe of sandwiches. The bread is soft and doughy, almost undercooked, layered with chunks of juicy, not too fatty al pastor, shredded lettuce, avocado slivers and tiny chopped onions. The hot sauce is bitter and red; one taste of it, and we wondered how we had ever eaten our torta without it. What really makes the sandwich is the meat. King Torta's al pastor is tender and rich with a hint of sweetness, bathed in its own juices and flecked with copious chili seeds.
Sure, there are other things to eat at King Torta. The heaping nachos are a favorite for many, as are the guacamole fries piled with tart, gooey green stuff. We, however, yearn for one thing. A torta, a torta! Our kingdom for an al pastor torta!
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Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.