Got Tongue?! Cook's Tortas does!
1944 South Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754-6302
Monterey Park, CA 91754-6302
Open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm; Sun 11am-4pm
I used to live in Monterey Park and oh how things have changed so much along Atlantic Avenue right off the 60 fwy. I remember going to Atlantic Square with my mom and sisters, going to the drug store. Or to the McDonald's across the street behind the Wells Fargo Bank...back then I used to eat a Big Mac and a hamburger, fries and a drink. I was a piggy even back when I was just a wee little child!
Anyhow...as your travel north on Atlantic Square, right before you hit Brightwood, you'll see a grey cinderblock building, The Pet Center, I believe, and then there's another building immediately behind it...Cook's Tortas.
I can't tell you how many times I've driven down this street, and every once in a while I'd see this little free standing restaurant and thought, I should check it out. Anyhow...I did awhile back and really just fell in love with the food. I am not a torta expert, but the fresh baked breads and the well cooked meats and flavor combinations are all so delicious.
I went down there Monday for a meeting with some friends and they were delayed so I had a chance to talk to the owner, Ricardo and ask him what his favorite torta was. He said...Lengua!
Some of you already know what lengua is...and for those of you who don't...it's tongue. More specifically in this case, cow tongue. My first experience of eating tongue was in Hawaii with my friend Jack at a Korean restaurant, Shillawon. It was sliced so thinly and tasted so awesome grilled and dipped in the sauces. So every time I have tongue, it's always very thinly shaved. Now, again for those of you who don't know, lengua is pretty tough, hell! it's a big giant muscle! So that's why it's always cut so thin.
Anyhow...after Ricardo told me lengua was his fave, I was totally down to get it! I've grown up eating cow stomach, tendons, oxtail...and I've already experienced cow tongue...so I was excited to try it.
When they brought my torta over all wrapped up in the white butcher paper and my little cup of sweet potato fries, I couldn't wait to unwrap it and start eating! I was starving and wanted to see what made this Ricardo's fave. What I was TOTALLY unprepared for was to see the giant slices of lengua and the taste buds! I didn't take a close up shot of the lengua because I know not everyone gets excited about eating tongue. I'm not even going to lie, there were a few moments when my stomach got a little queasy thinking about those taste buds. I opened up my bread and thought...I need more mayo...you all know how much I love mayo! Anyhow...I slathered more of the special lengua mayo on my bread...there was also yellow mustard (which I love), tomato and a piece of romaine lettuce. When I first read the ingredients on the board, I loved the simplicity of what was on the torta and I knew instantly that this torta was really all about the lengua which I think is great.
I was now mentally ready to eat my lengua and took my first bite...WOW! Those giant slabs of lengua were sooooo incredibly tender! The flavor was just simple and delicious. I still had those weird mental moments about the taste buds and every time I did, I had to psyche myself out and say...Damn it! You eat stomach and tendons! Suck it up and get over it! haha It's really is strange how the mind has so much control over us sometimes! All I can say is I really enjoyed this torta and I thought it was amazing.
Anyhow...if you are a fan of lengua, you have got to try the lengua torta here. It's #69.
I also love the Molcajete and the Ahogado! Spicy steak and tender super spicy pork. There are tons of choices that will satisfy your torta needs. They serve a side with each torta and they have fresh juices available.
Don't be overwhelmed by the board, ask the staff for their suggestions...and don't be afraid to try something different. I had taken more pictures of the board, but for some reason I can't find them. Anyhow...there is another beef torta with a roasted red pepper mayo (and you guys know I don't do red peppers) but this was so awesome! Tons of flavor and it also comes with avocado! YUM!! Ricardo gave me a taste of it...I think I'll get that next time! He also recommended the Ranchito and...oh man...I can't think of the name...but it's a Spanish Cod I think.
Go check out Cook's if you've never been...and yes...it really is in Monterey Park!! There are other great restaurants besides Chinese restaurants! This place gets packed and the waves of people is really non-stop...so don't be surprised if there is a line when you go.