Tortaria is a new Mexican sandwich that opened just last week near Union Square in New York. It’s a casual joint with a vibrant interior modeled after a traditional Mexican roadside bodega. You order your food at the counter and seat yourself at either an individual table around the perimeter or the large communal table in the center. There is also a bar showcasing more than three dozen varieties of tequila.

Come dinnertime the space is packed with young professionals and NYU students. If they’re initially attracted to the stylish atmosphere, they’re returning because of the good food.

I chose the Crispy Eggplant torta with panko-crusted fried eggplant cutlets, Chihuahua cheese, avocado, fresh Piloncillo tomatoes, pickled jalapeño, cilantro and chipotle BBQ sauce. This was the only vegetarian torta if you don’t count the Mexican grilled cheese. Breaded and fried eggplant isn’t usually my thing but the sandwich as a whole sounded delicious, and it was. The eggplant was tender, with just a light crispy coating of panko. The cheese and sauce added a nice creamy richness and really helped bind all the components together.

The Braised Short Ribs torta was a winner, with braised steak short ribs, spicy black beans, avocado, pickled red onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful. The sweet and tangy pickled red onion was particularly outstanding and added wonderful flavor and texture to the sandwich. The tortas are served on fluffy and slightly sweet semolina rolls.

Each order of guacamole is made fresh right before your eyes at the counter. Instead of with chips, we paired the guacamole with fried plantains. This was the one item we tried that could stand to be improved, being somewhat dry and chewy rather than soft with a nice caramelized exterior. The guacamole is excellent. They prepare it simply, adding just a few ingredients and leaving several chunks of whole avocado.

Just three days after Tortaria opened, it was already drawing crowds. If you happen to be a tequila connoisseur, that would be a whole other reason to visit. In addition the tortas, there are taquitos made on hand-pressed masa tortillas and a selection of side dishes. The restaurant is fortunate to be in prime location, but even if it weren’t, the food would be worth venturing out of your way for.

94 University Place
New York, NY
Tortaria on Urbanspoon

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15 Responses to Tortaria

  1. This looks like just my kind of place! Next lunch? 😉

  2. Daisy says:

    this looks fabulous. the exterior would draw me in even if i knew nothing about the food!

  3. Shannon says:

    love the presentation of guac! and i’m kind of craving that short rib torta now 🙂

  4. Carole says:

    I am so glad that you come home frequently – you keep me apprised of what’s happening in my neighborhood! This place sounds great!!!

  5. Guacamole paired with plantains sounds incredible! And I love that they serve the guac in the avocado skin!

  6. Ooooh that eggplant torta looks so good! And I want some… tequila! 🙂

  7. Erica says:

    OM gosh…guac with plantains….that sounds insane good. You find the best spots. Can I come visit??

  8. Megan says:

    What’s not to love about breaded and fried eggplant?! 🙂 This all sounds so good.

  9. Sacha says:

    It’s always nice when a place you just stumble upon turns out to be really good! I really like tortas and the guac looks great.

  10. Meghan says:

    The eggplant torta sounds absolutely amazing!

  11. The eggplant torta looks and sounds awesome! I love breaded eggplant!

  12. Bridget says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t been to NYC in almost 8 years!!! Its sad to say the least. I’m putting it on the list for 2012 so I’ll have to come back to your blog for suggestions hwen the time comes 🙂

  13. Molly Galler says:

    I would like that vegetarian torta and the guacamole (in the skin!) right now! Sorry to hear the plantains were a disappointment.

  14. Man I win had read this review before myNYC trip! This looks amazing

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