Long Beach Lunch: Sliced & Diced Eatery
Occupying an eggplant purple shack in a parking lot surrounded by Mexican restaurants and a vacuum cleaner repair store, Sliced & Diced is a little schizophrenic food shack that could only have happened in Long Beach. Start with two kooky friends--one white, one Latina--who share a mutual love of comfort food. Add a two year-old catering company and pop-up sauce-and-spice shop that inspired the cooking friends to go brick-and-mortar. Throw in some tortas dipped in enchilada sauce (pambazo style) and roasted yams loaded with chili or smothered in brown sugar (Southern style) and you might begin to understand the layers of big flavors coming out of this tiny eatery.
The concept (and size) is more akin to a food truck than anything else found on this stretch of Anaheim Street just east of Cambodia Town. It even has weird hours like a lonchera--closed Monday through Wednesday. But when the colorful food stand does open its walk-up windows and owners Griselda Suárez and Amy Erikson are at the helm, the experimental chef friends serve up outdoor feasts worth waiting 'til the weekend.
Del Lago torta with layers of citrus chicken, mayocoba beans, crispy cheese and chile sauce.
Sliced & Diced's menu is centered around the nearly a dozen sauces and seasoning combos that comprise the ladies' Peppered Up Foods company (maybe you've seen them at your local farmers market?), meaning that the tortas come with your choice of spicy walnut or mild pepita-lime chile and the melts are crafted to complement everything from the house BBQ sauce to a jamaica marmalade.
At only $7.75, the massively layered tortas are the best deal in the shack. With the chile, smushed mayocoba beans, pico de gallo, cabbage and a pan-fried cheese crisp smushed between a dusted telera roll, these beasts are the Mexican-inspired equivalent to today's gourmet burger, lobbing a different flavor at taste buds with each bite. You can even "make it saucy" (as the menu suggests) and add some house mole primavera or mole monarca, which adds yet another dimension to the already complex dish.
Unfortunately, with so much going on, the meat becomes relegated to a minor player, a protein-only addition. At one point in eating my green mole, pepita-lime, citrus chicken torta, I opened up the sandwich and dug into the meat with a fork, only to be saddened that it's skewer-worthy quality was buried under such other excitement.
If the tortas sound overwhelming, luckily Sliced & Diced also does simple really well. The Zaferia (named after the business district where the shop is located) is a pulled pork sandwich smothered in a sweet Santa Maria-style BBQ sauce. The Pike is a tuna melt on rye bread. And The Carroll Park is a cheddar-steak melt with carmelized shallots and a horseradish sauce. Or you can just get a massive "American" roasted potato, pre-mashed in the skin with butter and topped with sour cream, cheese, bacon and chives.
An eclectic menu devised to showcase equally-as-eclectic house sauces sets Sliced & Diced apart from any other food stand in town. Order to go or eat at the picnic tables in the parking lot--and don't forget to pick up some take-home bottles of your favorite sauces on your way out.
Sliced & Diced, 3201 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 343-7001
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