There's something terrifying about food hybrids. For example: When Pizza Hut human-centipeded a hot dog into a pizza crust, the entire planet cringed. When food scientist Guy Fieri announces new creations, like tater tot ravioli and hot donkey nachos, it's fair to experience bouts of night terrors. A torta and a burger, as one, sounds like a terrifying amalgamation. It sounds like something that might be captured on blurry 16mm footage, deep in the forest. Torta Burger. Say its name, and be not afraid!
The torta burger at Le Taco Cantina probably shouldn't work, but it does. I discovered this recently, nestled into the very dim bar (hence the photo quality) at the restaurant formerly known as Scotch and Sausage, where I pored over the menu of tacos. Behind me, the place was alive. Long, communal tables were dotted with cocktail glasses holding dancing candlelight. Music was throbbing, and the new neon sign out front looked like a Miami Vice prop. A bartender quickly put a label-less tequila bottle (it looks like Patron) in front of me, along with a shot glass.
Because I'm the world's smartest human, I was actually under the impression, for several minutes, that they had provided me free tequila with my meal. I stared at the bottle for a hilariously long amount of time, contemplating the dangers of free, pre-dinner tequila, before realizing it was actually my water and water glass. I did an "I'm an idiot" water shot, and ordered the "le torta." What new devilry was this?
Le torta is a short rib patty, with melted swiss, carnitas, avocado, lettuce, crema and a blanket of umami-rich sauce that's the most addictive I've had on a torta burger this year.
The torta burger arrived on a long, appetizer-y plate. It wasn't as Sasquatch-huge as expected (the last torta I experienced literally eclipsed my face). The first bite set off a soy-sauce firework. The short rib patty was seared to a light crunch and big on flavor. Torta burger good. Torta burger have flavor punch.
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Stacked high atop the hearty patty were carnitas that ranged from succulent to rubbery (around 60-40), crisp shards of lettuce, avocado and a little bit of crema. Creamy Swiss brought the flavors together and caused massive jolts of happy. Good bun too: It showed up shiny-faced and toasted, keeping its integrity throughout the burger-eating process.
Despite the uneven carnitas, the burger had such bold and earthy flavors that I think it'd be totally fine if you Hulk-screamed and tore at your garments before eating it. Also, that umami-rich sauce was a nice thunder clap. I was tempted to order an extra bun just to sop up the leftover sauce.
Often burgers with added "specialty" ingredients soar over 10 bucks. This one was mercifully under 10, and it wasn't a Frankenstein-esque, nightmare hybrid. This was a bizarre food amalgam done well.
Le Taco Cantina is a 2808 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas, TX, which was once the great halls of Scotch and Sausage.