By Claudia S. Palma
I’ve passed by Tortas Sinaloa plenty of times as I drive through Baldwin Park and it always catches my eye, mainly because of the name.
My mom and many of my family are from Sinaloa, Mexico. Even though I lived there for a few years when I was younger, I don’t recall much about the city, especially its food.
I visited Los Mochis, Sinaloa, for a few days a few years ago but mainly ate at my uncle’s house and at the neighbors’. It was neat to see how many households set up little shops selling various types of small food plates – such as tacos, rice and beans, tortas and more – right from their front door. No license or grading from any governing body needed.
But tortas as I thought I knew them were not the same in Sinaloa.
It all depends on the ingredients. Tortas are usually made using a telera bread, which is thinner and wider than a bolillo, another Mexican bread.
In Los Mochis, my aunt would make me a sandwich using a telera and fill it with beans and maybe sprinkle some queso fresco, a crumbly, mild, unaged white cheese. This sandwich was called huaraches or sandals. Before that visit, I would have just thought it was a torta with beans and cheese.
I was very curious to see what served as tortas at Tortas Sinaloa.
The restaurant, situated in a little strip of shops in the Home Depot lot right off the 10 Freeway, had a simple yet roomy interior.
The tabletops are embelisshed with a colorful fruit design and the walls are decorated with beautiful murals.
The counter to the right was lined with a row of large plastic containers filled with agua fresca, freshly made water-based fruit beverages.
The tortas menu had several choices, from the simple ones with meat and avocado or meat and cheese to combos and specialties, each with its own special name.
The Cancun torta ($4.99) was a chicken milanesa (thinly sliced and breaded) with ham, cheese, avocado and a slice of tomato. The Hawaii ($3.99) comes with ham, pineapple, cheese, avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce.
I decided to go all out and try the Sinaloa Especial ($5.99), which came with ham, milanesa, salchicha (sliced and grilled hot dog wiener), shredded chicken, cheese, avocado and tomato.
The soft, grilled telera bread was thin enough not to take over the sandwich and thick enough to hold everything in.
I loved the combination of meats inside, though the grilled greasy taste of the milanesa and the salchicha overpowered the chicken and the ham.
Next time I think I will try one of the more simpler tortas like the pastor con aguacate, which is marinated pork meat and avocado with lettuce, tomato and onion for $4.75.
I also had to try one of the aguas frescas, sitting there all nice and cold. I had a choice of lemon, horchata, watermelon, a fruit blend, melon, jamaica and tamarind. I went with the refreshing melon or cantaloupe melon. Kid’s size is 99 cents, medium $1.99 and large for $2.35. It totally hit the spot on a hot day.
Tortas Sinaloa also offers tacos, burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas, and other side offerings like the molletes I ordered for $2.99.
Why they are called molletes I don’t know, but they are half slices of telera bread grilled and topped with beans, chorizo or sausage and cheese.
There is also sweet molletes, which my brothers and I used to make as kids even though we didn’t know what they were called at the time. We would just get some teleras or bolillos, slice them, grill them, smear some butter and sprinkle sugar on top – delish and cheap!
They also offer smoothies, mixed juice drinks and other desserts like flan and banana split.
Tortas Sinaloa has two locations in Corona, another in Fontana and one in Tijuana, Mexico, if you ever travel that way.
I don’t know when I’ll make it to Los Mochis again but now I have another point of reference for tortas.
Tortas Sinaloa is at 14510 Towne Center Dr., S-C, in Baldwin Park. For information and to-go orders, call (626) 338-9555.