Angelenos who visit Mexico City inevitably return home on the hunt for certain foods. Squash blossoms. Huaraches. Mollejas. And the mighty pambazo. While the sandwich can be found in various regions, it's especially ubiquitous on the streets of el Distrito Federal.
Variations abound, but pambazos are essentially sandwiches stuffed with fried mashed potatoes, sausage, lettuce, cheese and crema. Unlike a torta, even a torta ahogada (literally a sandwich “drowned” in sauce), the pambazo's thick, white, puffy bread first must be soaked in bright red chile sauce, then fried, before the other ingredients are added in. (To make a torta ahogada, you put the sandwich together first, then dip the entire thing. It practically swims on the plate.) Ideally, the pambazo's outside is toasty and crisp but the bread is still soft. Inside the sandwich, the crispy lettuce and cool cream contrast with the warm potatoes and sausage.
In Los Angeles, pambazos aren't nearly as common as burritos, tacos, sopes or tortas. So you need to make an effort to seek out Mexico City-style food. One reliable spot is Metro Balderas in Highland Park (along with nearby El Huarache Azteca and Antojitos Chilangos). To Mexico City travelers, the name is a dead giveaway — it's one of the city's major subway stops. The eatery's business card is fashioned after a Mexico City transit pass, complete with the Balderas logo of a colonial-era cannon. It reads: “1 viaje. Sistema de comida chilanga.” One trip. Mexico City-style food system. Just what we Angelenos need.