Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Merida might hog all the attention these days as foodie touchstones, but the highland city Puebla can make just as plausible a claim to culinary greatness.
On 24th Street, La Torta Gorda calls itself "la casa de la autentica cocina poblana," the house of authentic Puebla cooking. You have to look closely to see the Puebla connection, past the house of Gorda's American breakfasts and small-town diner bones. Maybe since most of us wouldn't know the word if it bit us, Gorda calls its behemoth sandwiches "tortas," not by the Puebla name "cemitas."
But one thing that can transport you straight to the heart of autentica: Torta Gorda's flor de calabaza quezadilla, squash blossom quesadilla.
Bracketed in a speckled corn tortilla from La Espiga De Oro two blocks up, you find boiled, earthy-sweet zucchini flowers and wisps of the flesh. They mingle with scraps of roasted jalapeno and intensely green epazote leaves, resinous and faintly numbing. The accompanying green salsa ― more bright than tangy, an approximation of Puebla's papalo? ― jolts you straight out of the the diner.
La Torta Gorda: 2833 24th St. (at Bryant); 642-9600.