El Rey Del Sabor’s Torta: 2 – Me: 0

Since food trucks are still out doing the important work of helping Hurricane Sandy victims, Midtown Lunchers have more limited choices than usual. But it’s a great thing! I love that the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City has embraced our food trucks, and it seems this effort is benefitting everyone involved. Plus, I’m getting a chance to hit up one of my favorite classic carts: El Rey Del Sabor.

El Rey Del Sabor is a Midtown Lunch sweetheart, and it has recently been voted one of the fifteen top places for Mexican food in NYC by Eater’s readers. I’ve been attempting to go through the menu slowly but surely, trying their tamales, pastelillos, and… now their tortas. There are many culinary examples of tortas that vary from country to country, but in Mexico, they are a meat-filled sandwich on a white, crusty roll. Zach put them on his Midtown wish list way back in 2007, and since then they have popped up at Certe and Mexico Blvd. Mamacita also gave a good rec to a torta of the pork variety in a write up about El Rey Del Sabor not long ago. I was really looking forward to giving them a shot.

Well, readers, in a nutshell: I fought the torta, and the torta won. Twice.

El Rey Del Sabor’s chicken torta is a formidable competitor.

Yep, I tried that torta two different ways folks. The outcome, both times, was my defeat. Let me explain. As tasty as their tortas are, they fight back.

This seven buck parcel of deliciousness is large-and-in-charge, ingredient-packed, and sloppy. Almost too sloppy… it’s as if the torta is trying to thwart your plan to eat it. Before I even took one bite of my spicy pork torta with tomato, refried beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and jalapenos, the ingredients had already rendered the bread soggy, as you should hopefully be able to see from the glistening bread in the photo above. I couldn’t even take a picture of this one mid-meal because it required two hands to wrangle it.

Truthfully, readers, you feel like you’re racing the torta to eat it before it degrades into a pile of… something else. Something else entirely. It has a half-life of about two minutes. The picture above will give you an idea of what my chicken torta turned into. (By the way, this torta with chipotle salsa and pico de gallo instead of jalapenos and lettuce was tastier, in my opinion, and held its structural integrity far better than the former.)

Along with the fally-aparty nature of the sandwich (yes I made that word up) comes the mess factor. It’s gonna get all over your clothes, your desk, your face, your hands, your shoes… your hair! Pretty much everywhere but in your mouth.

And to top it all off, the torta goes for the long game. It hits you after you’ve come up for air, had a breather, and you think it’s all over. You’re proooobably going to need a few Tums Smoothies. You might even opt to take a pre-emptive heartburn tablet. If not, you’ll later wish you had never taken this bitch on. Trust me.

Size of sandwich may be smaller than it appears. I couldn’t allow my metrocard to safely venture any closer to this wet monster.

Despite all of this, the torta (or more fittingly, what you can capture from it) offers a pleasant taste experience. Like all of El Rey Del Sabor’s food, it’s a fair size, and it’s cheap, authentic, and spicy. I would recommend trying one, if you dare. However, if you’re going to brave the torta, arm yourself with utensils and lots of napkins, and make sure you’ve rescheduled any afternoon meetings where shirt-stains or indigestion will interfere…

But be warned: these tortas are fucking crafty.

El Rey del Sabor, (3 Locations)

  • 49th and Park
  • 43rd btw. 5+6th
  • 60th and 3rd


  • Yeah, their Torta is just too much, too big, too sloppy, but everything else is great, I recommend the huaraches, you get it all in a meal you can eat with a fork.

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    If you see a little pile of al pastor by the bench front of Bloomingdales, it’s because I don’t dare eating these indoors.

  • they’re not bad at the cart, but no contestant to the hundreds of torta joints in queens.

  • There are two kinds of street food: 1. The stuff you can eat while walking down the street, like hot dogs, most kati rolls; and 2. The stuff where you’ve got to sit down. Cross 43rd st and order a roti or doubles from Trini Paki Boys, and you’ve got to go someplace where you can deploy a fork. Such is El Rey’s torta. I had a spicy pork torta there last week and I thought it was phenomenal. The bread was crispy btw and it seemed ever so pleased to be eaten.

  • This post is pretty… dramatic. Reminded me of a Man vs. Food episode haha.

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    Probably not quite authentic, Baja Fresh sells an edible grilled chicken torta. What I find strange is that even though they are a franchise and should have consistent food, they are slightly different at many stores.

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    Hi, this is a very interesting web page and I have enjoyed read­ing many of the arti­cles and posts con­tained on the web­site, keep up the good work and hope to read some more inter­est­ing con­tent in the future. Thank you so much. is it down

  • KevinTran- Yes, my rock crusher got flooded by Sandy and It Is Down. Please send me a link for another one from Vietnam. Thx

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    That’s amazing, You are Superman, aren’t you ?

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