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A torta ahogada with two tacos dorados from La China. Matthew Kang

9 Great Spots For Tortas Ahogadas in Los Angeles

Where to find the iconic Jalisco sandwich in its finest forms

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Whether your favorite local sandwich is a pastrami on rye, jambon-beurre, bánh mì, or the torta ahogada, there’s no regional sandwich that can reach its potential without the local bread, whether artisanal or straight off the shelf of the neighborhood market. It’s all about the bread when it comes to sandwiches, and Jalisco’s birote salado, a hard, salty bolillo roll, is the main ingredient in one of Mexico’s most iconic sandwiches. Don Luis de La Torre, owner of Tortas Ahogadas El Güerito, claims his father created the sandwich in the mid-1930s in the center of La Perla Tapatía, a nickname for Guadalajara.

The original recipe is simple: a birote salado spread with refried beans and stuffed with carnitas (in Jalisco, you’ll find other fillings, like hog’s maw, beef tongue, panela cheese, and shrimp), which is then drowned in a heaping ladle of tomato sauce. Next, the cook pours over salsa de chile Yahualica, a hotter, more vibrant regional variety of chile de árbol from Yahualica, Jalisco. The torta is then garnished with slivers of pickled red onion and a lime wedge. It’s one of the rare Mexican dishes, along with the aguachile, where lip-scarring heat is part of the dish rather than a condiment, and if it isn’t hot enough, ask the tortero to turn up the heat.

Tapatío cuisine has always been present in Los Angeles, with most Jalisco-style restaurants serving antojitos as well as their signature tortas ahogadas. But in the last decade, the sandwich has become more prominent due to the rise of local bread makers. Many tortas ahogadas spots source their bread from Jaliscan bakers providing excellent birotes salados, like Wilmington’s Tortas Ahogadas La China, a recently opened stand that only serves the classic combo — tortas ahogadas, and tacos dorados — just like at a street stand in Guadalajara. No matter where you live in LA, there’s bound to be one of these proud Jaliscan vendors nearby, where you can find and try Mexico’s most fiery torta.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tortas Ahogadas Ameca

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747 S Atlantic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90022
(323) 268-6636

For almost a quarter-century, Gerardo and Maria Dávila’s East LA cenaduría has been offering fine enchiladas, tacos dorados, beef barbacoa tacos, and other antojitos as good as you’ll find at the town plaza of Ameca in Jalisco. Most regulars go straight for their punishingly spicy and tangy tortas ahogadas of carnitas jammed into an elongated, football-shaped birote salado. And if you feel like going off the menu, ask Dávila to make you a shrimp torta ahogada, another popular filling in Jalisco.

A torta drowned in sauce on a white plate.
Tortas Ahogadas Ameca
Rob Gokee

2. Tortas Ahogadas Chapala

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402 Foothill Blvd
Rialto, CA 92376
(909) 421-3770
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This Tapatío restaurant serves classics like pozole, carne en su jugo, and tacos de barbacoa, but it’s also a destination for festive molcajetes of grilled meats, cheeses, and seafood swimming in a hot, coarse lava stone mortar filled with a pool of bubbling salsa. They also make a beautiful sloppy torta ahogada filled with a generous portion of carnitas in a coarse birote salado served in clay plates. Drinks are served in jarritos (clay mugs), for a touch of Mexican charm in a Rialto strip mall.

3. Tortas Ahogadas El Guero

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4508 Whittier Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90022
(323) 262-8900
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This is where East LA residents have been getting their torta ahogada fix for decades, where the ends of the “authentic birote salado” are sliced off, restaurant-style. There are plenty of bargains for hungry families calling in large orders. Soothe the blistered corners of your mouth with ice cold Estrellas, an iconic beer from Jalisco, while browsing black and white photos of old Guadalajara in the heart of East LA.

4. Tortas Ahogadas La China

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324 E Anaheim St
Wilmington, CA 90744
(424) 404-2155

Opened just four months ago, Eidy “La China” Cardona’s small Wilmington stand is everything you want in a traditional torta ahogada vendor. Guadalajara native and veteran tortero Rigoberto Escobedo brings this recipe from Guadalajara, where he previously worked making tortas ahogadas. Tortas ahogadas and tacos dorados are the main attraction here, so go for the combo. The dense birote salado is made by a local Tapatío while the salsa imparts a viscous tang to the tomato sauce. The simply spiced salsa thins at the edges while delivering throat-clearing ferocity. 

A torta ahogada with two tacos dorados from La China.
Tortas Ahogadas La China
Matthew Kang

5. Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita

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5938 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 506-6473

Under a shady ramadita, or little thatch roof (here it’s an overhanging roof), with a Chivas emblem on the sign, sits North Hollywood’s temple of Tapatío street foods. Featured dishes include shredded beef and potato tacos, pig’s foot tostadas, and tortas ahogadas made with extra sturdy rolls. Enjoy one of the best tortas ahogadas in LA, then have the fine jericallas (a custard-like dessert) in this regional Mexican oasis off the dry, cracked, barren stretch of Vineland Ave.

A split torta ahogada laced with spicy sauce in a takeout container.
Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita
Farley Elliott

6. Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos

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2856 W 5th St
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(714) 488-5609
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This exciting mini-chain with locations in Pomona and Santa Ana conjures images of giant tortas inside of Guadalajara’s Mercado Libertad with their La Vikinga — a lonche de lomo (pork loin sandwich) is nearly the size of a duffel bag. La Gigante is the length of Shaq’s forearm, and the tortas ahogadas are just as impressive in their sloppy yet appetizing plating that might require a fork — but you’d be missing half the fun.

7. Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara

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6042 Santa Fe Ave
Huntington Park, CA 90255
(323) 587-3115
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Since 2001, the Estrada family has been filling the bellies of Huntington Park residents with hearty soups, tacos dorados (crunchy tacos), Mexican egg dishes, and tortas ahogadas at their Guadalajara-style restaurant. Enjoy their tasty carnitas in birotes salados made by a local baker, as spicy as you can withstand, with a michelada, or cantaritos — tequila with Squirt and citrus served in a clay mug. The welcoming dining room is perfect for the whole family on a Saturday afternoon.

Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara on a white plate, covered in spicy sauce.
Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara
Farley Elliott

8. Tortas La Tapatía

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8910 Sepulveda Blvd
North Hills, CA 91343
(818) 814-0205

At this weekend-only tortas ahogadas stand, located inside the Molina Tires and Wheels parking lot, is a true Guadalajara experience of tortas ahogadas, which are doused with salsa roja from a ladle into plastic to-go bags. Be sure to get an order of tacos dorados covered in carnitas and drowned in the same mouth-numbing salsa. The motto here is “mañana si amanese crudo vengase a curarsela con una rica torta ahogada” — if you wake up hungover in the morning, a delicious torta ahogada will cure it.

9. Tortuga Bay

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147 W Manchester Blvd
Inglewood, CA 90301
(310) 671-8000
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Mario and Allegra Pérez have developed a menu for everyone: Po’ boys, hamburgers, ceviche, and hefty volcano nachos. Before it opened in 2008, the Pérezes worked at numerous other restaurants, hence the eclectic menu. Inglewood denizens are guaranteed a super spicy torta ahogada as good as they’ll find east of the 405 in a crispy sourdough roll, which holds up very well under the bath of salsa roja.

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1. Tortas Ahogadas Ameca

747 S Atlantic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022
A torta drowned in sauce on a white plate.
Tortas Ahogadas Ameca
Rob Gokee

For almost a quarter-century, Gerardo and Maria Dávila’s East LA cenaduría has been offering fine enchiladas, tacos dorados, beef barbacoa tacos, and other antojitos as good as you’ll find at the town plaza of Ameca in Jalisco. Most regulars go straight for their punishingly spicy and tangy tortas ahogadas of carnitas jammed into an elongated, football-shaped birote salado. And if you feel like going off the menu, ask Dávila to make you a shrimp torta ahogada, another popular filling in Jalisco.

747 S Atlantic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90022

2. Tortas Ahogadas Chapala

402 Foothill Blvd, Rialto, CA 92376

This Tapatío restaurant serves classics like pozole, carne en su jugo, and tacos de barbacoa, but it’s also a destination for festive molcajetes of grilled meats, cheeses, and seafood swimming in a hot, coarse lava stone mortar filled with a pool of bubbling salsa. They also make a beautiful sloppy torta ahogada filled with a generous portion of carnitas in a coarse birote salado served in clay plates. Drinks are served in jarritos (clay mugs), for a touch of Mexican charm in a Rialto strip mall.

402 Foothill Blvd
Rialto, CA 92376

3. Tortas Ahogadas El Guero

4508 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

This is where East LA residents have been getting their torta ahogada fix for decades, where the ends of the “authentic birote salado” are sliced off, restaurant-style. There are plenty of bargains for hungry families calling in large orders. Soothe the blistered corners of your mouth with ice cold Estrellas, an iconic beer from Jalisco, while browsing black and white photos of old Guadalajara in the heart of East LA.

4508 Whittier Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90022

4. Tortas Ahogadas La China

324 E Anaheim St, Wilmington, CA 90744
A torta ahogada with two tacos dorados from La China.
Tortas Ahogadas La China
Matthew Kang

Opened just four months ago, Eidy “La China” Cardona’s small Wilmington stand is everything you want in a traditional torta ahogada vendor. Guadalajara native and veteran tortero Rigoberto Escobedo brings this recipe from Guadalajara, where he previously worked making tortas ahogadas. Tortas ahogadas and tacos dorados are the main attraction here, so go for the combo. The dense birote salado is made by a local Tapatío while the salsa imparts a viscous tang to the tomato sauce. The simply spiced salsa thins at the edges while delivering throat-clearing ferocity. 

324 E Anaheim St
Wilmington, CA 90744

5. Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita

5938 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601
A split torta ahogada laced with spicy sauce in a takeout container.
Tortas Ahogadas La Ramadita
Farley Elliott

Under a shady ramadita, or little thatch roof (here it’s an overhanging roof), with a Chivas emblem on the sign, sits North Hollywood’s temple of Tapatío street foods. Featured dishes include shredded beef and potato tacos, pig’s foot tostadas, and tortas ahogadas made with extra sturdy rolls. Enjoy one of the best tortas ahogadas in LA, then have the fine jericallas (a custard-like dessert) in this regional Mexican oasis off the dry, cracked, barren stretch of Vineland Ave.

5938 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601

6. Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos

2856 W 5th St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

This exciting mini-chain with locations in Pomona and Santa Ana conjures images of giant tortas inside of Guadalajara’s Mercado Libertad with their La Vikinga — a lonche de lomo (pork loin sandwich) is nearly the size of a duffel bag. La Gigante is the length of Shaq’s forearm, and the tortas ahogadas are just as impressive in their sloppy yet appetizing plating that might require a fork — but you’d be missing half the fun.

2856 W 5th St
Santa Ana, CA 92703

7. Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara

6042 Santa Fe Ave, Huntington Park, CA 90255
Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara on a white plate, covered in spicy sauce.
Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara
Farley Elliott

Since 2001, the Estrada family has been filling the bellies of Huntington Park residents with hearty soups, tacos dorados (crunchy tacos), Mexican egg dishes, and tortas ahogadas at their Guadalajara-style restaurant. Enjoy their tasty carnitas in birotes salados made by a local baker, as spicy as you can withstand, with a michelada, or cantaritos — tequila with Squirt and citrus served in a clay mug. The welcoming dining room is perfect for the whole family on a Saturday afternoon.

6042 Santa Fe Ave
Huntington Park, CA 90255

8. Tortas La Tapatía

8910 Sepulveda Blvd, North Hills, CA 91343

At this weekend-only tortas ahogadas stand, located inside the Molina Tires and Wheels parking lot, is a true Guadalajara experience of tortas ahogadas, which are doused with salsa roja from a ladle into plastic to-go bags. Be sure to get an order of tacos dorados covered in carnitas and drowned in the same mouth-numbing salsa. The motto here is “mañana si amanese crudo vengase a curarsela con una rica torta ahogada” — if you wake up hungover in the morning, a delicious torta ahogada will cure it.

8910 Sepulveda Blvd
North Hills, CA 91343

9. Tortuga Bay

147 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90301

Mario and Allegra Pérez have developed a menu for everyone: Po’ boys, hamburgers, ceviche, and hefty volcano nachos. Before it opened in 2008, the Pérezes worked at numerous other restaurants, hence the eclectic menu. Inglewood denizens are guaranteed a super spicy torta ahogada as good as they’ll find east of the 405 in a crispy sourdough roll, which holds up very well under the bath of salsa roja.

147 W Manchester Blvd
Inglewood, CA 90301

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