The Kensington-Ditmas Park area of Brooklyn is slowly becoming known for its restaurants and dishes, including the “haute barnyard” French Fries at The Farm on Adderley. Meanwhile, the wide swath of Coney Island Avenue running through the center of both neighborhoods remains a mainstay of ethnic restaurants from Prospect Park to Brighton Beach -- everything from all-night, tri-level Pakistani joints to Turkish baklava places. It’s sort of like the restaurant bustle of Jackson Avenue in Queens, but decompressed over a 5-mile stretch. In this mix are a dozen or so Mexican Torterias; tiny shops, usually with signature sandwiches. Most of these places are closet-sized, just big enough for a stove at the back, a regular household refrigerator or a steam table. Torterias are often home bases for roving tamale carts; moreover they’re round-the-clock operations, with employees pickling their own jalapenos, pulling and braiding homemade Oaxaca string cheese, or clipping cilantro leaves from plants growing in window boxes.

Much in the same way the Vietnamese Bánh mì is the product of colliding food cultures, the hot or cold Mexican Torta often expresses non-traditional, quirky influences. The “Hawaiiana y Cubana” ($6) at Torteria Del Valle on Coney Island Avenue includes a garnish of pineapple rings built on the chassis of a basic Cuban Sandwich. Gothamist heard a rumor of another neighborhood Torteria that serves a lengua y mejilla (beef tongue and cheek) sandwich, but we lost the trail somewhere at the edge of Flatbush.

The Chorizo con Huevo (pictured) at Torteria Del Valle is a great example of a basic starter torta. For $5, you get some a 5” wide Spanish roll loaded with sliced chorizo, a fried egg, some melted, mozzarella-like Oaxaca cheese, lettuce, pickled jalapenos, and a generous application of mole on one side of the bun. It’s a perfect introduction to the world of tortas, and you don't even have to say aloha if you don’t want to.

Torteria Del Valle
727 Coney Island Ave.