Hole In the Wall: Tortas y Biónicos 'Nice' Is the Nacho's Revenge

If you want a glimpse into the profound mystery that is the Mexican soul, look no further than tostilocos. It's a snack that has marched across Aztlán over the past decade but has made no impact among gabachos whatsoever—and I don't blame them. Slice open a bag of Tostitos, dump cueritos (pickled pig skin) on the chips inside, toss in cacahuates japoneses (Japanese peanuts, another Mexican snack that confounds Americans), and drown the results in Tapatío and chamoy, a Mexican condiment that has no real explanation in English except it's all the flavors of Mexican food that gabachos don't care for—salty with sweet with spicy with tart—turned up to 11. Eat these ingredients together, and you have Mexico's revenge on the nacho—and a snack that even hipsters won't touch, so messy and paisa it is.

Tostilocos have existed in Orange County now for a good five years, and one of the newer places to serve them is Tortas y Biónicos “Nice” (yes, grammar losers, the quotation marks are in the original), a growing Corona empire that first popped up in SanTana about two years ago with a mariscos joint. Tortas y Biónicos is a glorified snack stand, with fruit salads (the aforementioned biónicos, a baroque concoction of fruits, chile powder, a blizzard of coconut shavings and even more chile powder) and fruit juices the main draw. The tortas are as large as a textbook, split into regions (the Oaxaca one has quesillo, a Michoacán version features carnitas, the Guadalajara take is ahogada, and so forth). Tacos and burritos are also available, but this is a modern-day car-hop—get your food, joke with pals, see Univisíon, then get out.

The main draw, of course, is those amazing tostilocos. The chewy cueritos wrap themselves around the crunchy chips, which are drenched with the Tapatío and chamoy, and you shovel them into your mouth—it covers every possible sensation your mouth is capable of, leaving it and your fingers messier than the Red Wedding. Finish with a mangonada, yet another Mexican mystery: a slushie filled with mango slices, chile powder, chamoy and salt, then presented with a giant straw coated in a half-inch of chile-powder paste. And you think you knew Mexican food?

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