In August for the Orange County Register I wrote about Playa Mesa, an exciting new Mexican restaurant in Costa Mesa. And I can’t stop thinking about their torta de milanesa. It’s the best sandwich I’ve had in years.

In case you missed it:

The bun is heavily buttered and toasted and slathered with a thick, messy glop of refried beans and mayonnaise (more specifically chipotle aioli), then heaped with finely shredded lettuce, pickled jalapeños and fat slices of avocado and tomato. Stuffed into the middle of all this is a thinly pounded steak, fried to a crisp. Absolutely everything about this sandwich is perfect.

And it is massive. When the waitress sets it on the table with a thud, I immediately assure myself that I’m not crazy enough to eat this entire sandwich. I’ll just eat half of it, at which point I will assert self control. Somewhere along the way my plan goes awry. The first half of the sandwich is resting heavy inside my stomach and I’m holding the second half in both hands, bringing it toward my face, unable to stop what’s been set in motion. Before I know it, there’s nothing left on the plate but crumbs and an uneaten garnish of arugula. 428 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa; 949-287-5292;

This excerpt is taken from my review that originally appeared in the Orange County Register. To view more of my work for the Register, check out the archives.

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