I only learned about the torta ahogada recently. It came up in a conversation about a special type of Guadalajaran bread called birote or bolillo salado that has a higher salt content and a thick crunchy crust. The sandwich gets its name because it’s dipped in a spicy sauce made with chile de arbol, vinegar, garlic and oregano.
I set out to find such a sandwich here in Houston. I tried taquerias with "Jalisco" or "Guadalajara" in their names. I cruised up Bellaire and Long Point. Even Airline.
And then a friend at Egullet directed me to Paparruchos, at the corner of Hidalgo and Sage in the Galleria area. That place’s take on the T.A. was filled with very tasty carnitas, and even though the sauce the sandwich was dipped in was on the mild side and the bread wasn't what I imagine a real birote is like, I enjoyed it and would have one in the future.
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In the meantime, I'll continue my quest for the real thing. I'm a man with a mission. – Jay Francis