Tortas y Tacos La Chiquita

Ah yes, Arlington. That place you go to for the sole purpose of buying stuff on Craigslist. Which is exactly what I was doing this Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t planning on a lunch out. Frankly, in my mind, Arlington is the bastion of Panera. And yes, yes, I know that Arlington has plenty of good independent restaurants but we were out in the heavy suburbs and I didn’t want a big sit-down meal.

After retrieving the Craigslist loot, I was headed home, thinking there wasn’t anything on the way, when I ended up in the middle of this adorable Main Street at the corner of Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike, and dining options abounded. What even is this place? It’s sort of in this No Man’s Land between Ballston and Pentagon City. Crossed the street, and there, in all its glory, was La Chiquita.

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It’s next to the theater and looks like nothing much. But looks are often deceiving, as I was made painfully aware of last night at Shaw’s Tavern. Inside, their flashy electronic menu rotated between options, flashing a picture of each one. A little voice told me I needed the carnitas torta. It arrived crazy fast and looked like this:

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It was piled high with moist pulled pork, topped with avocado, tomato, and pickled vegetables, dripping with cheese, and absolutely smothered in mayonnaise. The bread was soft and warm. The meat was juicy. The vegetables were spicy pickled perfection. The salsa served on the side was a perfect addition. I’m ambivalent about mayonnaise and even I didn’t think this was too much (even though it really was too much…I had to eat this sandwich with a knife and fork). I was audibly moaning with pleasure by the time I finished this meal.

This torta was so good that I considered buying another one just to keep the feeling going (it was plenty of food). If I could have this experience all over again, I would have bought two just for the variety. I’m sad that I only tried the one thing because La Chiquita has plenty of non-torta plates if that’s your thing: tacos, quesadillas, etc. I’m sure they’re all amazing. I’m glad I don’t live in this neighborhood because I would be SO. FAT.

Price: $10 per person.

Bottom line: You need this torta in your life. It’s worth a special trip.

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