DesBrisay Dines

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Mitla reinvents the sandwich with Mexican tortas and cactus quesadillas

Mexico's answer to the sandwich, tortas start with a crusty white roll stuffed with fresh goodies and it all gets grilled on a panini press.

By Shawna Wagman

For me, Mitla is a classroom. I go there to learn about the flavours of Oaxaca, Mexico, from someone who lived there and immersed herself in its food culture. I also go there for a damn fine lunch.

I immediately fell in love with agua de fruta ($3), cold refreshing “fruit water”— in this case, it was mango; the other option was passion fruit — beloved in Mexico for helping to beat the summer heat. I found the amount of sweetness, and the appealing consistency — thirst-quenching drinkable sorbet — just right. I polished it off before my lunch arrived.

Entering the festive red shop (blue from the street) nestled in the heart of residential Vanier, it feels like I am having lunch at the kitchen table in someone’s colourful little home. That someone is owner Ana Collins, who was flying solo in the Oaxacan-inspired kitchen on the afternoon I recently visited for lunch.

Looking up at the chalkboard menu, I quickly noted that many of the Spanish words were unfamiliar and details are few so I asked Collins for some direction. She recommended the torta ($5), a Mexican sandwich — chicken, chorizo or veggie — grilled into crusty-gooey submission on a panini press.

I also wanted to try something made with her homemade corn tortillas so I opted for a pair of quesadillas ($3), intrigued by the cactus and cheese option.