A torta, what most of us in California recognize as the Mexican-style sandwich, actually has its roots in both the Italian and Spanish languages. It has different meanings depending on what area and period of history you are referring to. Its origin lies in regional varieties of flatbread and it typically differs from regular bread based on its round, flat shape and the absence of yeast.

Today, if you are in some South American countries or Italy and you see tortas advertised, don’t expect to find the Mexican-style sandwich you are familiar with — a torta means a sweet cake, typically like what is served at a wedding or birthday celebration. So what is the Mexican torta that has become so popular in communities outside of Mexico? This torta is a type of sandwich that may be served on an oblong sandwich roll. The bread is thick and crusty and the sandwich is filled with garnishes like lettuce, jalapenos, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream and more. It may be served hot, typically toasted in a press much like a panini or Cuban sandwich. See where to get the tastiest tortas in the Sacramento area by referring to this list.

(credit: flickr.com)

El Abuelo – Super Tortas Chilangas
5045 Franklin Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95857
(916) 452-0126

El Abuelo is one of the best spots in Sacramento to try an authentic torta. It specializes in this Mexican culinary delight and offers one of the best selections of tortas you are likely to find outside of Mexico itself. One of the most-ordered tortas at El Abuelo is the Cubana. The Cubana is made with breaded steak, smoked ham, mozzarella, hot dog, American cheese, egg and ham. Other options include classic offerings like asada, pastor, milanesa and chorizo. The specialty tortas include the Espanola made with smoked ham, hot dog and mozzarella cheese, or the Alemana with breaded steak, ham and mozzarella cheese.

Related: Best Guacamole in Sacramento

Chando’s Tacos
863 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 641-8226

While Chando’s Tacos may, not surprisingly, specialize in tacos, its selection of tortas has won over the hearts of Mexican food lovers in Sacramento as well. All meats at Chando’s are made fresh and are among the best in the area. The Pork Adobada is always a hit, made with savory pork marinated in Chando’s homemade adobada sauce and slowly cooked with pineapple. Also be sure to try the Birria, spicy beef stew meat marinated in Chando’s mom’s multi-chile pod sauce and slow cooked to perfection. And while this may be about where to find the best tortas in Sacramento, be sure to squeeze in a taco to go as well – Chando’s has some of the best fresh tortillas in the city.

(credit: stu_spivak/flickr.com)

Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl
6035 Franklin Blvd
Sacramento, CA
(916) 393-7353

Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl makes up the big three with Chando’s and El Abuelo for the most beloved tortas in Sacramento. The Torta Cubana is probably the most popular option here but the reason you may not have heard much about Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl is because it’s not the easiest to find. It’s in South Sacramento, which is perhaps not the best area of Sacramento, but tends to be home to some of the best Mexican food. One constant on the tortas here — they are huge. So if you are lucky to be dining with at least one other person, consider splitting one, otherwise you may have more torta than you can handle.

Related: Best Burritos in Sacramento 

Torta (credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/Getty Images)

Taco & Tortas Truck
Vineyard Road and Opportunity Drive
Roseville, CA

Head up Highway 80 on Sundays to Vineyard Road and Opportunity Drive for a mobile torta fix. It only hits the Roseville area on Sundays and features a variety of Mexican specialties including tortas. The Taco & Tortas Truck is relatively new on the dining scene so it is still quite undiscovered by many area foodies, making it the perfect time to give these curb-side tortas a try before the lines get too long. In addition to tortas, the mobile tortas truck carries tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more.

(credit: lafiestataqueria.com)

La Favorita Taqueria
5940 Florin Road
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 391-5544

You might recognize La Favorita’s name as it’s tied in with La Fiesta Taqueria, which has several locations throughout the greater Sacramento area. La Favorita and La Fiesta offer four different tortas, all of which are made with fresh-baked bread and great options to satisfy your torta craving. Try the Torta Regular made with meat, melted cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa, or the Torta Mexicana made with meat, melted cheese, beans, onions, cilantro and spicy salsa. The other two tortas include the Ahogada made with carnitas, refried beans and a heavy dose of hot sauce, all topped with onions, or the Jamon with jam on bread and melted cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa.

Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.