La Montanita’s Tortas and Plates: Best Value on the Block?
I was really pleased with La Montanita a couple of months ago when I had four pretty damn tasty tacos for $10. On a beautiful day, it’s worth the walk to this humble but delicious cart, whose hidden-in-plain-sight status seems to have benefited with a little bit of expansion. They’re now offering some nifty looking daily specials!
The day I went (last Wednesday) they were supposed to have tacos al pastor (sorry Sam and Goats, no spit visible in the cart) but the whiteboard had it as tacos al carbon ($2.50). Still, my call-ahead order was a queso fresco and avocado torta ($5). This definitely merits a taco visitation in the future.
In addition to the torta one of my co-workers had ordered the steak & onions plate ($5.50). The avocado looks like the same one from the tortas and previous taco encounters – hooray for avocado/guac on everything!
I’d apply the standard Midtown Lunch sandwich measuring method of Metrocards had my badge holder not gone AWOL somewhere in Newark Penn Station earlier this week, so a NJ Transit pass will have to suffice. This is about on par with other tortas that have been on ML in the past, but man, this sucker is dense.
Stuffed quite well, it’s unfortunate that my arch-nemesis second only to white meat chicken – iceberg lettuce – forms a good half-inch of space or more on the torta. Still, though, there’s a hugely dense packed amount of queso fresco and liberal amounts of avocado schmeer all over, exploding out the sides.
Biting into this torta is a work of sandwich beauty. I can’t believe this is only five bucks for the amount of avocado you get. Yes, it’s going to burst a bit, so you have to be careful if you wanna eat this on the go. But the whole thing comes together so WELL. The bread is crusty and flaky, nice and rustic without being too thick. The avocado is nice and creamy, the lettuce is crisp and fresh, and there’s a smoky, spicy kick thanks to a spread of very, very chipoltle-ified refried beans as well. Token tomato slices are present – not heirloom, but a nice cooling liquidiness. Hey, at least they’re fresh. Plus queso fresco, lots of it. I freaking LOVE this stuff now. It’s nice and chewy, stringy, still warm from the griddle. This is a sandwich that will fill you up without clogging your arteries (well, not THAT much – I can’t speak for the beans) and barely even touch your wallet. I’m glad I didn’t try a taco with this – I’d be STUFFED. The sandwich itself is more than filling.
My co-worker’s steak and onions were pretty decent. Atop yellow rice with canned mixed vegetables, the real stars were the beans and the steak on this one.
Yeah, it’s way too thin and way too overdone, but it’s flavorful – lots of garlic and bright tartness coming through the steak. I wish it was the same thickness but cooked only about 30 seconds a side for a far juicer cut of steak.
The rice is decent, but these beans are creamy and amazingly delicious. Lard has not been spared in their creation, and to this I say hallefreakinglujah! I could eat them solely for a dish and be happy. A bit on the salty side, but they go well with a forkful of everything together.
The onion was just a grilled Vidalia onion – nice and sweet. I was hoping for a big smothering of fried onions, but this is pretty decent too.
I gotta admit, La Montanita is fast becoming my favorite Mexican joint in this part of Midtown. You really can’t beat the prices, and now that the options have daily specials involved, it’s an excuse to keep coming back. Who knows? Maybe if we get them enough business, a spit of proper al pastor might be in the future!
La Montañita/Coffee Place cart, 40th between 7th and 8th (north side of the block)