Sunday, June 24, 2012

Torta Grill On Not-Too-East Colfax

There are plenty of great tortas to be had around Denver. On the East and West sides of town there is Las Tortugas, the first Mexico City-style torta shop around and now a true Denver institution. There is Teleras up north in Thorton, a Tortugas replica with a few original twists that is worthy in its own right. And just outside of Cherry Creek on lovely Leetsdale is the amazing Guadalajara-style Las Tortas, home to a fine torta ahogada. There was even for a time Leobardo's, who would make the most Mexico City of Mexico City sandwiches, the torta de tamal. Yes, tortas--really good tortas--abound compared to other Mexican dishes in Denver, but like so many other good, inexpensive Mexican fare, one usually has to travel well outside Central Denver to partake.

I never mind driving for good food. Between my wife and I--from Mexico City and Chicago respectively, there is seldom traffic in Denver that we can rightly call traffic (very much part of the reason we love it here), so in one day it would not be rare to find us lunching on North Federal then dining down in Southeast Aurora. That being said, if I don't have to spend time in a car I'd rather not, so when I heard that Torta Grill opened up just 18 short blocks from our state's capitol on Colfax and Williams, I headed over as soon as I could.

As much as I have learned to like the Denver strip mall (for its seemingly limitless number of cheap, culturally diverse eats) I love that Torta Grill is on the curb-- and what's more, on the curb of Colfax next to a liquor store and just a few steps down from the lovely Squire Lounge. It is on the corner with the alley between Williams and High that you will find Torta Grill in a small space sporting five stools inside, and a four-seat plastic table out on the sidewalk. It has little sliding windows that open from the register to the street as well, so that food and cash can be exchanged right from the pavement.

While many tortas in Mexico City are made on carts, the more permanent vendors might operate from a shop not unlike Torta Grill. And without a doubt tortas are best enjoyed sitting on plastic chairs or standing on a busy street with throngs of people walking by. In this sense Torta Grill has chosen the perfect location.

Yes, it seems like a well-conceived plan by the husband and wife team who have opened Torta Grill. The former, Steve, or as he calls himself, "El Guero Tortero", can be found working the line; proudly flipping your torta meats. His wife, Ardeni, a Mexico City native, was also there that day to ring up our order then pass it out the window with a big smile. 

My wife ordered the Jose, which in addition to all the torta basics (avocado, mayo, beans, onion, tomato, etc.) came layered with ham, chorizo, eggs and cheese.

That's a  fine-looking torta

It was an excellent torta made with fresh ingredients all around. Even the beans--smeared across the bottom loaf of bread--stood out. They were creamy and flavorful; and when a seemingly background ingredient stands out, it makes me think that much care and thought has gone into the preparation of not only the sandwich, but the entire restaurant. I could be wrong (I often am), but by the taste of those beans it also seems like the Guero Tortero is not afraid to make use of the lard. Well done.

Inside La Jose

The Arturo is what I ordered: pork, ham, eggs and cheese. It was exactly as delicious as it looks in the photo below, and note those beautiful black beans peeping out on the bottom layer. In my carefree bachelor days that found me more than once at the Squire Lounge just down the street, oh how I wish this sandwich was there as I stumbled home. 

Of course what would a torta shop be without aguas frescas? The question is mostly rhetorical, but for those not familiar with a typical torta-shop set-up, the answer is that it would be hard to even consider that a torteria in a place like Mexico City. The fact is that greasy tortas and fresh-made fruit and vegetable drinks are the yin and yang of Mexico City street food. There are very few things that are likely as unhealthy as bread slathered in butter stuffed with several kinds of greasy, grilled meats, cheese, mayo and all the other sorts of calorie-laden, cholesterol-raising fillings. Therefore it makes sense that a healthy, freshly made jugo like the one I had at Torta Grill-- made with strawberries, apple, pineapple, orange and lemon--are the perfect companion to the torta.

Sipping a giant freshly made jugo after downing a torta is like waking up early to go to the gym after eating a big meal the night before-- but without the waking up early or going to the gym. What could be better than that?

Where does Las Tortas stand among the torta greats of Denver? It is early still, but I was most definitely impressed with what I had, and unless something changes (I'll let you know if it does), it will be on the top of my torta rotation from here on out. Do yourself a favor and get there.

The Torta Grill is calling your name. You can call them at 720.420.0964 for delivery or just go pay a visit at 1818 E. Colfax. 

Torta Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. That looks suspiciously like the space that used to house the Pineapple Grill. A shame I'll have no more of their curry chicken, but Torta Grill looks like a worthy successor.

  2. I've been looking forward to you post on the Tortas. Nicely done.

    I agree, the beans really stood out for us too. Lovely "manteca" makes its appearance!

    BTW, I remembered you when Steve told me that his mom is from the Philippines.

  3. I have been there a couple of times and can eat it about every day.

  4. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com



11N (1) A Federal Case (1) A Taste of the Philippines (1) Acapulco Tacos (1) Ace Eat Serve (1) adobo (1) Adrian Miller (1) aguas frescas (2) Al Lado (1) Al's Beef (1) alambre (4) Ali Baba Grill (1) All-V's (1) Araujo's (1) arepas (4) Argentina (2) art (1) asada (2) Aurora (5) authentic (1) Award (1) bacon (1) bagel (1) Bailey (1) bakery (1) baklava (1) baleadas (2) Ban Thai (1) barbacoa (3) baseball (5) Basil Doc's (1) BBQ (2) beer (2) bibimbob (1) Biker Jim (1) birria (1) biscuit (2) Bistro Vendome (1) Bonnie Brae Tavern (1) books (1) Boulder (3) Boulder International Film Festival (1) Bourdain (1) breakfast (3) breakfast for dinner (1) breakfast tacos (1) brunch (2) Brussels sprouts (1) Buffalo wings (2) buffet (2) Bun Hanoi (1) burger (3) burrito (8) Bánh mì (2) cabeza (2) Cafe de Tacuba (1) Cafe La Habana (1) Cafe San Juan (1) camping (1) Canada (1) Carl Sandburg (1) carne en su jugo (2) carne seca (1) carnitas (2) Cava (1) cecina (1) ceviche (2) change (1) charal (1) chica morada (1) Chicago (10) Chicago Louie's (1) Chicago Style (1) chicarron (3) chicharron (2) chicken skin (1) chilaquiles (5) Chile (3) chiles en nogada (1) Chili Verde (1) chimbolo (1) Chinese (2) Chinese New Year (1) chorizo (4) chorrillana (1) Christmas (1) churros (2) cinco de mayo (2) CLOSED (6) coffee (4) Colorado Springs (1) Colt and Grey (1) Coney Island (1) contest (8) crab (1) crawfish (1) crispchon (1) Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria (1) Cuban sandwich (7) cupcakes (1) curry (1) Cypress Hill (1) Dancing Noodle (1) deep dish (1) deli (1) Deluxe (4) Denveater (7) Denver Biscuit Company (1) Denver Botanic Garden (1) Denver County Fair (2) dessert (2) Dim Sum (1) diner (1) DINR (7) discada (1) dolmades (1) Domo (1) donuts (1) dreams (1) duck curry (1) dumplings (2) durian (1) EatDenver (2) El Boricua (1) El Camaron Loco (1) El Costeno (1) El Diablo (2) El Divino (1) El Fogon (1) el guero tortero (1) El Olvido (2) El Paisa (3) El Pariaso (1) El Rico Dicho (1) El Salvador (2) El Taco Rey (1) El Tamarindo (1) El Tizoncito (1) elote (1) Emapanda Express Grill (1) Empanada Express Grill (1) empanadas (8) enchiladas (1) enchiladas mineras (1) Encore (1) epicurious (1) Ernie's Bar (1) Euclid Hall (1) event (1) Evergreen (1) falafel (1) Fantasy Island (1) Filipino (7) film (7) fire (1) First Friday (1) fish tacos (2) flan (1) flautas (1) flyfishing (1) food truck (7) food cart (6) football (2) French (2) fried chicken (2) fried tacos (1) frijoles charros (1) Frijoles Colorado (1) Fritangas (1) frito pie (5) frybread (1) G6 (1) gallo pinto (1) garnachas (1) Gastro Cart (1) Gaudalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet (1) Globeville (1) Golden (1) good Mexican food (10) good signs (5) gorditas (1) Grandma's Korean BBQ (2) Greek (1) Greek Town (1) green chile (12) Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet (1) gyro (4) Halo-Halo (1) Harvest Week (1) Hi Rise (1) Honduran food (1) hot dog (5) huarache (4) Huerfano Cafe (1) Hush (1) Hutch and Spoon (1) Ian Kleinman (3) ice cream (1) Indian taco (1) itacates (1) Italian beef (6) Italian-American (2) Jabo's (1) Jack-n-Grill (1) James Mazzio (2) Japanese (1) Jax (1) Jiutepec (1) Jollibee (1) Jonsey's Eat Bar (1) kabob (1) Kaladi (1) Kavkaz Bakery (1) kids (2) King's Land (1) Korean BBQ (3) La Cascada (1) La Chapina (1) La Flor de Michoacan (1) La Loncheria Mexicana (1) La Mexicana Taqueria (1) lamb (2) Lao Wang Noodle House (1) Las Torgtugas (2) Las Tortas (1) Laughing Ladies (2) LDP (2) Le Trompeau (2) Leandro Cristobal (1) lechón (5) lengua (1) Leobardo's (1) LoHi (1) lonchera (7) longaniza (2) Los Angeles (1) Los Carboncitos (1) Los Farolitos (2) Los Gallitos (1) Los Pastes (1) Los Toritos (1) Lou Malnati's (1) lox (1) lumpia (2) lunch (2) machaca (1) Mama D's (1) Mama Tere (1) mango (1) Map (1) Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria (1) mariachi (1) Martin Rios (1) Masterpiece Deli (1) Maxwell Street (1) mayonnaise (1) Mexican Canoli (1) Mexican hot dog (1) Mexico City (8) Mexico City Restaurant and Lounge (1) michelada (2) Middle Eastern (6) Mile High Vienna Beef (1) molcajete (1) mole (8) Monte Vista (1) Motulenos (1) Mulli (1) Museo de las Americas (2) mushrooms (1) mussels (1) mystery meat (1) Navajo taco (1) New Mexican (3) New Siagon (1) Nicaragua (2) nitrogen (1) Nonna's (1) NOT CLOSED (1) old school (1) Ondo's (1) Operation Front Line (2) Orange Crunch (1) Oscar's (1) Osteria Marco (1) oysters (1) paleta (1) pan dulce (5) Panaderia Rosales (1) pancit (2) Parallel 17 (1) Park Burger (1) Paste (1) pastries (1) Pasty (1) Patricia Quintana (1) Patriotic Independence Gathering (1) pepper and egg (1) Peruvian (2) Philippines (3) pho (3) Pho 77 (1) Pho Duy II (1) Phoenician Kabob (2) Piccolo's (1) Pikka's (1) Pinche Tacos (2) Pinche Taqueria (1) pizza (9) Planet Barbecue (1) poblano (1) pollo a las brasas (2) Pomfreet (1) pork (3) poutine (2) pozole (1) pronunciation (1) Puebla (1) Puerto Rico (1) pupusa (5) quesillo (1) recipe (6) Recovery Room (1) Red Tango (1) rice and beans (3) Richard Sandoval (1) Riki Takaoka (1) Rise and Shine (1) roast pig (2) Rosca de Reyes (1) Route 40 (1) Russia (1) Sabor de Mexico (1) Salida (4) salty lemonade (1) Santa Fe (1) sausage (5) seafood (4) Seattle (1) shawarma (2) shrimp cocktail (1) Silla (1) Simpsons (1) smothered (7) sope (1) South American (1) southern colorado (8) Starz Denver Film Festival (3) Steven Raichlen (1) Stevo's (1) street food (9) strip malls (1) Studio F (2) stuffed (1) suadero (1) Sub sandwich (1) Sue of Siam (1) summer food truck boom (3) Sunburst Grill (1) sushi (1) Sustainable Food Film Series (1) sweets (2) Table 6 (3) taco al pastor list (2) taco arabe (1) taco truck (8) taco vampiro (1) Taco Veloz (2) TacoMex (1) tacos (1) tacos al pastor (34) tacos al vapor (4) Tacos Copacabana (1) tacos de canasta (1) tacos de trompa (1) tacos dorados (1) Tacos el Chorizo (1) Tacos El Gordo (2) Tacos El Sampa (1) Tacos Junior (2) Tacos Tijuana (1) Tacos y Salsas (2) Taiwanese (1) tamales (3) Tambien (3) tapas (2) Taqueria el Valle Aurora (1) Taqueria el Valle Denver (1) tarta (1) Taste of Chicago (1) Taste of the Nation (2) Teleras (1) Telluride (1) Tepotzlan (1) teriyaki (1) Thai (5) Thai Avenue (1) Thai Flavor (1) The Bagel Deli (1) The Berkshire (1) The Biscuit Bus (1) The Corner Office (1) The Inventing Room (1) The Pasty Republic (1) The Red Claw (1) Thornton (1) Ticorito (1) Tin Star Cafe Donut Haus (1) Tocabe (1) Toluca (1) Toluca Mexican Restaurant (3) tongue (1) torta (5) torta ahogada (2) torta Cubana (1) torta de tamal (1) Torta Grill (2) torta poblana (1) tortilla (1) Tortisimas (1) travel (14) Tres Pupusas (1) truffle fries (1) Turtux (1) Udi's (2) US Thai (1) Utah scones (1) Venezuelan (2) Victoria (1) Vietnamese (3) vietnamese sandwich (1) vigaron (1) Walsenburg (1) Westword Best Food Blog (1) whiskey (2) Willy's Buffalo Style Hot Wings (1) Xiao Long Bao (2) yuca (1) zombies (1) Zorbas (1)