El Gallo Giro - Santa Ana
"Hey! Hey! It's your ol' pal Krusty for my new pork sandwich, the Clogger! If you can find a greasier sandwich, you're in Mexico!"
-- Krusty the Clown in "The Simpsons Movie"
And that sandwich, my friends, is the torta. But you don't have to go to Mexico to find it. Deep in Santa Ana -- a city that has redubbed itself as "Downtown Orange County" -- an institution called El Gallo Giro makes one of the best.
The greasiest is a behemoth called the Torta Cubana ($5.99). Yesterday, I ordered one.
Allow me to describe it.
The thing weighed as heavy as a shotput in my hand. It boasts not one, not two, not three, but four kinds of meat. There's a spicy, chili-marinated filet of lean pork leg simply called pierna. Then there's jamon, a floppy slice of ham that looked like Danola. There's also sliced headcheese -- bits of the nasty odds-and-ends of the beast suspended in gelatin and formed into a loaf. And finally, a beef steak, pounded thin, breaded and deep fried. This one's called a Milanesa; my favorite protein in the pile.
But that's not all. The bread was thick and dense, more macho and built of a heartier stock than a normal burger bun. One side was slathered in refried beans. Then everything else was stacked on top of this base. The meats. A tangy slab of queso. Avocado. Pickled jalapenos. Wilted onions. Tomato. And a few measly shreds of lettuce that did absolutely nothing to offset the wanton excess of it all.
Since it was assembled on a griddle, the sandwich was still warm when I got back to the office -- a good thing too because all that the grease would congeal otherwise.
But common sense told me that I could not, and should not, attempt to eat the whole thing in one sitting. So I cut it into two halves.
I bit into one and before I knew it, that half was gone.
I was full, but not satisfied. I wanted more. More of that porky flavor. More shards of that crispy beef. More of that rich, yet cooling avocado. And, yes, even more of the disturbing cartilage crunch of the headcheese.
And that, my friends, was how I devoured a massive sandwich and felt every bit like Homer Simpson when he uttered these immortal words:
El Gallo Giro
1442 S Bristol St
Santa Ana, CA 92704