But I learned “torta” meant “cake”…

You pass it so often without noticing. A small, shanty, apartment-looking restaurant on the corner of East Maxwell and North Broadway seems to be something that has fallen into oblivion by many. It may not be a flashy or a 5-star restaurant only celebrities could pay to eat at, but it is so much more. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a common phrase, and it is a phrase that I think perfectly represents how to treat this holy ground. “Ellos”, an almost insignificant eatery is a place that surprises me for not being a large business yet.

My favorite time to have tacos is always later at night. There is just a prime hour for indulging in your choice food – it could be chocolate or milk and cookies or coffee – you choose! For me, I could have tacos any time of the day, but my preference is always after eight o’clock at night. It’s the perfect time after having dinner to satisfy your palate.

That’s exactly how my long-time roommate Venecia and I were feeling one Tuesday night. We just needed a little something to hit the spot and we both decided on tacos.

“I’ve never been there before,” replied Venecia to my suggestion.
“Have you not lived before?! Who are you?!” I exclaimed, flabbergasted that she had never consumed the savory tacos of this beloved taco shack.

The decision was made. It’s a rule: friends don’t let friends not eat Ellos. I was anxiously anticipating her to experience the loveliness all the way there.

When we arrived, I felt antsy. I love introducing my friends to new things.

“This is it?” she said.
“Haha, yep!” I answered, unsurprised.

Walking through the front door of this more-or-less “apartment”, it hit us. The overwhelming scent and humidity overtook us. It was a windy night with a few rain showers, so coming into such a thick, humid atmosphere felt like perspiration. We were breathing heavy, but we didn’t know if it was because we were so ready to devour incredible food or if it was from the smog we were inhaling.

This had to be a different experience. I wanted to try something new. The first time I had ever been to Ellos, my friend Emily told me to get a “torta”. In high school Spanish I learned that “torta” meant “pie”, but boy was I wrong – it was a sandwich! I knew I couldn’t just get my usual – 3 latino tacos and a piÑa Jarritos (a Mexican, fruit-flavored soda in an ever-so-classy glass bottle!). As weirded out as I was about these tortas, which essentially is a “burrito sandwich”, as I like to call it, I decided it was worth a try. There was only one kind – laced with beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, avocado, and your choice of meat: chicken, pork, or steak. I went with steak. I was nervous. Would trying this new plate change my devotion to Ellos? I hoped not.

Venecia could not, for the life of her, make up her mind. I will admit, though, I easily convinced her to get tacos, despite her desire to get a quesadilla. Unfortunately she chose three “wildcat” tacos, rather than the Latino tacos (that are hands-down the best). I am a little biased against the “Wildcat” and “American” types of tacos of their hand-written, dry-erase board menu. Being a Spanish major and junkie of authentic Mexican food, I despise any imposters. The Wildcat is a combination of the Latino and the American taco, consisting of your choice of meat, onions and cilantro (from the Latino), lettuce, tomato, and cheese (from the American), then topped with sour cream. If you go to Ellos ever, you must only get the Latinos.

“What type of tortillas do y’all make?” I asked hesitantly due to an uncomfortable atmosphere from the employees. The woman that was working seemed stand-offish and frustrated by something.
“Mexican. They’re corn tortillas,” she answered, making me feel stupid, even though I explained my interest in the ingredients of my meal for my class. I blushed of awkwardness. I was done asking questions.

Venecia and I sat at one of the three foldable tables in the congested area.

“Do you all want salsa?” the employee asked bluntly.

My taste buds can’t handle anything spicier than pepperoni pizza sadly, so I turned it down. The woman persisted, sharing that the salsa was milder because it was Puerto Rican and not Mexican, this time in a homier tone. Apparently Puerto Rican taste buds have a lower tolerance for platos picantes. I still resisted; Venecia accepted.

As we pounded some delicious food, I slowly realized that my torta was changing into a goopy, sloppy, soggy mess. I regretted it. I regretted my choice. The disappointment was too real. The steak and the beans created a strange mix, not completely agreeing with my taste buds.

“Ugh, I knew it! I should have gotten the chicken in it! NO, what I should have done is stuck with the Latinos… DUH, CASEY.”

Venecia loved her tacos, thankfully. I was relieved that she had a phenomenal first experience. Although I wasn’t in love with my torta, I wasn’t bitter. I knew I’d be back. It’s so close to campus, it’s so cheap, it’s so small – what’s not to love! Maybe next time I just won’t get the torta again. Or maybe I will – but with chicken.

Overall, Ellos was not as bad as one might take my description. This was one of the many times I have eaten there. I would say I would give it a 7 out of 10 stars. The tortillas are fresh, but definitely not the freshest I’ve ever had. If I had been getting tacos, this taco trip review may look a little different, including the uncomfortable atmosphere with the employees that I had never experienced before. Ellos does have a social media presence, though! If you are interested in learning more, check this place out on:

  • Twitter: @ellos406
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllosOnBroadway/
  • Instagram: @ellosonbroadway