Tortas ahogadas, the drowned carnitas sandwiches from the Mexican state of Jalisco, may have reached their Stateside apex in a Chula Vista parking lot, about 10 miles from the Mexican border. Guadalajara native Ray Reed lovingly honors the tortas ahogadas of his youth at a truck called El Gallito Tortas Ahogadas, which he runs with wife Karina.
The parking lot bumps up against the 5 Freeway and normally draws customers for Toys R Us and RTA Electronics, but more and more people are visiting the lot for tortas thanks to media coverage from programs like Bizarre Foods.
Yes, El Gallito serves textbook tortas ahogadas, but what jumped out most was the Gemma ($7), named for a famous Guadalajara shop that Reed family friends run. He sourced the shop’s recipe to produce chewy bollilo rolls, which cradle juicy carnitas, creamy chipotle-spiked tomato sauce, and squiggles of sauce crafted using mustard, cream and mayo.
Ray Reed clearly knows sauces and started selling Reed’s Spaghetti out of the truck and at nearby Beach Side Station (best known for “gas at the fork”). Reed charges only $5 per package, provides 10 different flavors (including meat sauce), and plans to open a fast casual spaghetti restaurant. Come to El Gallito for the tortas, but leave with some spaghetti.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm