Cesar’s is part of my Taqueria Tour of Milpas, and this is my second visit. Their front door sign says fish and chips and Mexican food, and it’s unfortunate that fish and chips are placed at the top of the placard, because one might assume that this is their specialty. Really, the popular items there are the seafood cocktails.
But since it’s up there on the big placard, we thought it was time to give them a try. We ordered the fish and chips, and also a milanesa torta.
The fish and chips was made up of a lot of chips, and the most interesting thin and wide pieces of breaded fish I’ve ever seen, practically covering all the chips. The large surface area made for a lot of crunch! I can’t say that this is among my favorites in town, but it’s also not the worst. It’s hard to go wrong with lots of fried breading, and I bet I would have liked this when I was much younger. But now, naw, I’m not crazy about such thin pieces of fish that they’re hardly noticeable. However, the dish also comes with a good portion of salad.
Also on order was the torta, and we picked the milanesa as our meat, but there are a handful of other filling options. We went with milanesa because we’d never tried it before. It seems that torta bread comes in two shapes, the long roll variety and the round roll variety. I happen to like the round roll more, and this is how Cesar’s does it – soft, but not doughy. Their torta includes normal sandwich fillings like lettuce, but also refried beans. It was oozy and yummy. The milanesa filling itself was tender spiced meat, pounded very thin. It reminded me of gyro meat. It cost about $6, making it one of the deals on the table.
On both visits there was a basket of complimentary chips and two kinds of salsa. I liked the tomatillo salsa more than the tomato. As we were paying, I saw them ladle out the tomato salsa from a big can, so maybe the commercially produced tomato salsa is why it’s not tops on my list.
Overall, I liked Cesar’s, although I wouldn’t consider it to be the best food on the street, and the competition is indeed fierce. What’s provided in exchange is an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it’s a very family friendly place with full table service, comfortable and ample seating, while most of the Mexican restaurants around Milpas are very casual hole-in-the-wall types. In fact, I don’t believe it’s possible to declare any one place as “the best.” There are favorites, and my favorites vary by what I’m looking for. At Cesar’s, it’s the seafood cocktails and tortas.
The Presidio Market looks like your bog standard corner liquor shop, huh. But at lunchtime the deli opens up where they serve generous portions at good prices.
Three of us shared a carnitas torta and a chile verde burrito. Each cost $6.
The torta is the long bread roll variety, stuffed with shredded pork and finely diced fresh jalapeno which gave it a good amount of zippy flavor. I happen to be the type that likes a torta as a soft bun, and feel that the long roll gets too tough and chewy, but this was good nonetheless. The filling was fabulous, and that’s the main point.
The chile verde burrito was the winner item with big tender chunks of pork, wrapped up in beans, rice and lots of melty cheese. The cheese gets so hot and melty that this is best eaten with a fork. Basically, this is something normally ordered as a plate of food, except it’s been wrapped up in a big tortilla. Do not eat this on the run.
The seating at the market is sparse and, frankly, a little unaesthetic. It’s easy enough to grab the food to go, and walk it to the sunken gardens, or do like we did and sit in the open patio area of the long closed Acapulco/Stateside in la Arcada.
Bonus: front row seating of the fountain and its resident turtles!
Stop #2 on our progressive dinner.
Ted supports many community projects and organizations. His work alongside la Casa de la Raza meant he was in the know on some good torta action at the downtown mercado.
We arrived to an absolute madhouse of people rocking out to an oompa band that was bringing down the house with some righteous tuba playing. It was best to lurk around the backside, chatting with the Casa de la Raza folks as they were preparing the next round of tri-tip for their sandwiches.
It probably took 40 minutes to acquire the $8 torta. Freshly grilled and seasoned beef tri-tip, served in a soft roll with lettuce, tomato and onion. It was good, of course, and we quickly retreated into the back lots to eat it in peace. I only had my small camera with me, which doesn’t do well in low light, so I must subject you to some rather bad photos of Ted’s silhouette by the toilets – you’ll have to trust me that he’s very happy holding his torta – and the torta itself, which required some mad photoshopping skillz to make it look like a torta and not like the blue, green and yellow alien pod my camera tried to turn it into.
I admit it: it was my first torta at Fiesta ever.