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Tijuana Torta Specialist Rolls Into San Diego

El Tio Pepe sets up a truck in Chula Vista

In a move inspired by popular demand, Tijuana-based chain El Tio Pepe is now serving its signature tortas ahogadas — crusty rolls stuffed with carnitas and bathed in a sauce of chile de arbol and oregano — out of its new food truck at 3740 Main Street in Chula Vista. Operating Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the truck also offers fried potato tacos and a special carnitas quesadilla.

Known in Tijuana for their homestyle touch and for flying in their preferred pan salado from Guadalajara, where the torta ahogada originated, the El Tio Pepe chain has been in business since 1993 and quickly became a hit, leading to the eventual opening of three more outposts south of the border.

According to Chula Vista manager Juan Orozco, owner Jose “Pepe” Plascencia, whose likeness is on the side of the bright yellow truck, had his eye on the San Diego market for some time, but it was continued requests from diners visiting from north of the border that finally led the chain to expand into San Diego County.

While operations aboard the truck are still in their infancy, there are already plans to add items to the scaled-down menu; planned additions from the full Tijuana menu include birria, beef dishes, and desserts such as flan and rice pudding. Orozco also says there are plans to open up a permanent outlet in San Diego in the relatively near future.

Torta ahogada