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First bite: Torta sandwiches at El Guadalajara

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on May 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm | No Comments »
May 3, 2010 5:40 pm
The torta sandwich at El Guadalajara on Sixth Avenue.

If there’s ever a sandwich that defines messy goodness, it’s a torta. The properly constructed ones require no fewer than two or three napkins.

The Mexican sandwiches are the territory of taco trucks. I can name several around town that offer the deliciously messy Mexican sandwiches stuffed with grilled meats, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos and fresh cilantro. To date, the La Fondita taco truck in the Lincoln District has yielded my most favorite torta. I always order mine with extra avocado because too much mess is never enough mess, right?

As for a torta that doesn’t require a wait in the elements? I bit into it at Taqueria El Guadalajara. The new Sixth Avenue sit-down restaurant opened Thursday in its new digs, having moved from its previous Stadium District location.

The new locale is two stories, with booths and family seating downstairs, and additional booth seating upstairs adjacent to a large bar. The menu is the same, as is the kitchen staff, a server announced as we took an upstairs booth.

I ordered my torta ($9.99) with adobada, pork simmered in a peppery sauce. The meat was slow-roasted, and still fatty around the edges, which, depending on how you like your meat, may intrigue or repulse you. The succulent pork contrasted juicy against the crunchy, crisp exterior of the sturdy, grilled sandwich roll. Tucked between meat and roll were layers of shredded lettuce, tomato, shards of fresh jalapenos and fresh sprigs of cilantro. Pickled jalapenos on the side added a layer of puckery heat once I pushed them into the sandwich. Fresh and pickled jalapenos? Be still my jalapeno loving heart. Finished with a swipe of mayo, the sandwich was a serious napkin investment. I virtually ignored the soupy beans on the side and the rice didn’t register much flavor, either.

The same flat rice and beans accompanied my dining companion’s chicken in mole sauce ($12.50). Disappointingly, the restaurant said it had no corn tortillas, we instead were offered dry, supermarket style flour tortillas. The mole sauce tasted one dimensional, with notes of chile and chocolate, but no overwhelming flavor. For better mole, my pick goes to Reynas in Parkland (they have tortas, too; and nopalitos).

It seems that El Guadalajara was suffering from opening jitters. Besides having no corn tortillas, they were out of carnitas, too. The soap dispenser in the women’s bathroom wasn’t working either. Service was a bit scattered, although very friendly. My advice: wait a bit before visiting to give the restaurant time to resolve the opening quirks.

El Guadalajara
Where: 3002 Sixth Ave., Tacoma

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