Friday, July 1, 2011
If you ask someone about Mexican street food, the first thing that most people think of is tacos and burritos. If you continue to press, you might come up with elotes or tamales. The only people that might come up with tortas are those that live near a significant Mexican population but almost know one would come up with cemitas, a regional Mexican sandwich originating in Puebla, Mexico that is similar to the torta except that the bread is egg based and is topped with sesame seeds. In Chicago, there is one retaurant that specializes in cemitas. That restaurant is Cemitas Puebla and I am lucky to live within walking distance. The restaurant has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, a TV show on the Food Network that I don't regularly watch because I don't care for the bigger-than-life personality of host, Guy Fieri. Having said that, I do see it occasionally and I do think that the show features some really good places. I had seen the episode and saw that Guy had eaten and raved about the Atomica Cemita, a sandwich featuring milanesa (a breaded pork chop), carne enchilada (guajillo chile marinated pork chop), and jamon (ham). It sounded good so I decided to try it. I thought it was good but not as great as Guy seemed to make it out to be. Several local media entities also recognized and raved about this sandwich so I wondered what I was missing and decided to try it again. The first time I tried this, I didn't add any salsa so I decided to see if salsa made the difference. The sauces offered were a chipotle salsa and a salsa verde. I tried each separately with the sandwich and together and decided that the salsa, particularly the chipotle salsa, really added to the flavor. I went here last weekend with my brother and was able to try a few other things. Besides my Atomica, we ordered chalupas which are nothing like the chalupas that you might find at Taco Bell. Chalupas consist of a layer of corn tortillas doused in salsa verde and salsa roja and topped with onions and aged cheese. You can get it also topped with chicken, steak, or chorizo but we decided to try it as it was. It was messy and a bit plain, it would have been better with meat, but it wasn't bad.
The other sandwich we had was an arabe cemita which is spit-roasted pork and onions with avocado, lettuce, Oaxacan Cheese, and Chipotle sauce. The Atomica is the sandwich that is crowed about but after trying this (the Arabe), I think I like it better. This has convinced me that while I have liked both sandwiches, I need to try them all. I am really glad that this is close.