We were forty-five minutes early so we walked to the nearest restaurant to grab something to eat. We went into a small shop with a counter and a smaller counter by the window. An entrepreneur’s dream with open kitchen and a simple but dazzling menu. Our first thought is that Shyanne would love this place. She is an artist and draws the ladies from the Day of the Dead. The décor would have pleased her. The young woman and man behind the counter spoke easy Spanish and English. They both were smiling and helpful, explaining what the sandwiches were and the options.
The Torta Grill’s specialty is what they call “authentic Mexican sandwiches”. Now, y’all know I am not a fan of sandwiches. These were a far cry from the ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or turkey and cheese of our culture. We stood looking up at the menu on the wall, taking in the slight cool breeze from the sweltering outdoors, and tried to decide. The first line I read was “Enrique- eggs, cactus, panela cheese, crushed red peppers, and more cheese.” I needed to look no further.
The bread was similar to ciabatta but a bit softer, grilled to a perfect brown on the open grill. He layered on a smear of black beans to one side and light, sweet mayo on the other. Juicy, cut very thin tomatoes and marinated red onion topped the mayo side. Then cold avocado, fresh, and flavorful topped that. On the other side of the grill he was busy sautéing the eggs, cactus, and cheese. He placed them on the bread, put it all together and sliced it deftly. It was a thing of messy beauty.
I was five bites in before I just took a fork to the thing pulling out separate components and dipping them in a hot, smoky chipotle sauce. The cactus tasted like a sweeter green pepper, and wrapped in hot cheese made it irresistible. I had the mini sandwich that was under five bucks and it filled me up. Doug had an egg, steak, and cheese sandwich that I would love to tell you about it but while I was savoring chipotle and cactuses in silent bliss Doug devoured his. These sandwiches were good.
The highlight of the Torta Grill was the juice offerings. We had been walking a lot in a hundred degree heat and those thirty-two ounce drinks caught our attention immediately. Doug had cucumber lemonade, perfect for a summer day. I fell for a huge thing of horchata. The cinnamon spiked milky drink was cold and delicious.
One of the positives of our current homeless, jobless situation is that we have been able to enjoy summer. Every day for the past six years we stood on hot pavement under a farmer’s market tent, or watering our gardens, or milking goats, or making products for our Apothecary, or running our store. This summer, while we can, we are playing in sprinklers with our granddaughter, swimming, hiking, visiting friends, and eating new things in new places, like cactus and panela in chipotle. You must try this place if you are downtown!
The Torta Grill
1818 East Colfax Avenue