>> Cemitas Tepeaca #2 | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Cemitas Tepeaca #2

MÉXICO 🇲🇽
(PUEBLA)

COVID-19 UPDATE: The food truck is operating as usual. Salsas are included in your takeout bags so there is no congregation or open foods.

Geography nerds will enjoy that Cemitas Tepeaca #2 (#1 and #3 are both further east) parks itself right on the dividing line between East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. Technically on the east side of Indiana Street is East Los, but your gaze will fall towards the triangular parks bisected by Avenida Cesar Chavez and the "Welcome to Los Angeles" sign that greets people headed into Boyle Heights.

One of those triangles just in front of Los Cinco Puntos is home to a tiny section of what is still called Brooklyn Place, maybe the only block that still uses the old name of the avenue. Just across Indiana from this, and parked daily in front of the colorful laundromat, is the second Cemitas Tepeaca truck, named for the small municipality 35km from Puebla City.

While scenes from that home in Puebla adorn the sides of the beautifully painted lonchera, inside the truck is a team of sandwich artists. Specifically, they are making cemitas poblanas. But before ordering one of their many options, give a chance to another Pueblan specialty: tacos árabes ($3 each, above and below).

The flour wrappers are tasty workaday options, while a few pieces of dry pork spill out one end or both, so far nothing amazing is expected. But when you take your first bite into the interior of the taco and start to hit the juices and avocado, life starts getting better really fast. Are these even tastier than those famous ones nearby?

Tacos árabes are some original fusion cuisine, born in the city of Puebla but spread throughout the country and to cities like Los Angeles with large diaspora. Even the Christian Lebanese immigrants who brought the idea with them to México in the 1920's and 1930's were eating mostly lamb, cooked on a vertical spit like has been common for shawarma for centuries.

Eventually this meat made its way onto flour tortillas that somewhat replicated a thin pita bread (pan árabe). The children of these immigrants would start cooking pork in a similar fashion and the obsession has continued to this day.

The cemitas here, almost all of which are sold for $8 or $9, of course deserve your attention as well. Depending on the exact time of your arrival, the namesake Pueblan bread baked with egg and covered in sesame seeds could feel a bit old, but usually is fresh and magical. The cemitas bought on this occasion suffered from being eaten a day or two later, respectively.

They do milanesa very nicely here, so the cemita de milanesa de res ($9, above and below) is almost an automatic order. One of the reasons this truck seems so transportive is that there are questions and options given for each sandwich, almost as if you were ordering from a corner bakery back in Tepeaca. You can choose either quesillo or queso fresco, and chipotle is offered if you prefer that to jalapeños.

For those that like a little more heat in their mouths, chipotle peppers always seem to offer more to a well-rounded cemita and their presence here is much appreciated. Of all their many options you can enjoy between bread, there is probably not one that cannot be improved by the chipotle.

That includes the cemita de pierna enchilada ($9, below), shredded pork leg cooked in a spicy adobada. This always seems to be delicious on tortas and cemitas, and here they make it just about perfectly. It is with joy that future visits to this particular section of the Boyle Heights-East Los border are looked forward to for many of their other cemitas. Has anyone tried another option that they recommend?


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