Drowned (But Not Yet Burned) at El Mexiquense


The torta ahogada at Overland's El Mexiquense - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • The torta ahogada at Overland's El Mexiquense
The torta ahogada is a traditional Mexican sandwich that is "drowned" (ahogada) in red chile sauce. Since the torta ahogada at Taqueria Durango was one of my 100 Favorite St. Louis Dishes, when a reader informed me that Overland's El Mexiquense (9519 Lackland Road; 314-428-4919) also offered the sandwich, I knew I would have to pay the restaurant a visit.

What that reader didn't tell me? After I ordered El Mexiquense's torta ahogada, I still had another, very important choice to make.

Taqueria Durango's torta ahogada has only carnitas and onion. At El Mexiquense, the sandwich is more like a traditional torta, with cabbage, tomato, jalapeño, onion and mayo atop the meat -- pork leg, in this case. The meat and its condiments are served on the traditional oversized bolillo roll, which is then covered with a spicy red-chile sauce.

How spicy is the sauce? That is your decision. El Mexiquense's menu lets you choose the heat level: 10, 30, 50, 70 or 100.

There is no challenge, as at the Florissant Thai restaurant Pearl Cafe, but on the chance that this sauce's heat approached Pearl Cafe's fearsome heights, I decided to start at the beginning, with a 10.

The sauce was a touch smoky, a touch tangy, definitely peppery, but not overwhelmingly hot. With the help of the jalapeño inside the sandwich, the torta definitely dampened my brow, but I doubt true capsaicin fiends would even notice.

Heat aside, though, this was a fine sandwich, and I look forward to trying it again -- at a level 30 or maybe, for your entertainment, a 50 or even a 70.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.