The definitive taco of Mexico City is the taco al pastor, made with pork from a schwarma-style spit and sprinkled with onions, cilantro and pineapple. I’m pretty sure you could live here 100 years, try a new taco al pastor every day and never eat every single one in the city. The dish originates from traditions brought by Lebanese immigrants, who arrived during the early 20th Century.
Given the taco’s ubiquity, it’s hard to pick out a favorite taco al pastor or even really be surprised by one. They’re all good. They’re all basically the same.
Or so I thought. On
Saturday night (Sunday morning at 4:15 a.m.), after a year and a half in Mexico City, I experienced a totally dazzling, totally unique al pastor dish. It came from a place called El Vilsito, which I am told is king of the “torta al pastor.”
Tortas are a kind of sandwich made with a light, wide bun, softened with warm re-fried beans, tomato slices, small rings of raw onion and avocado. Later: insert egg, meat or cheese of your choosing.
In El Vilsito’s case, the meat was a pile of succulent al pastor meat. The cooks scoop out nearly half an avocado to make each sandwich. The mountain of meat warms and mush-ifys (yes mush-ify) everything else, and it is sooooo incredibly delicious. Later of course, you can add pico de gallo (chopped tomatos, onions and chiles) and various other salsas to your liking.
I’ll admit, I’m not the first gringo to stumble upon El Vilsito. In fact, the supreme temple of intellectual gringonia has already reported on it. But I still feel privileged to have had the experience.