Why did I eat the Puma? Because Neza created it.
53-26 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, NY 11377 CLOSED, Moved to truck at Roos/111th St
Once I read it on the menu, I knew it had to be taken down. But first, let’s get the details out of the way: Neza is the king of the Mexican sandwich. He opened this 2nd location in Woodside, away from the inundating amount of Mexicano restaurants near the original in Corona, and he now stands out as a diamond in the rough. The tacos are simple, fresh and ultra-satisfying, and the tortas are his master creation – even better than his cemitas, which are usually my choice of sandwich. They destroy because of the fresh bread, each wrapped in plastic straight from a bakery in Corona, then griddled before plating. That’s the element generally lacking for tortas. Not here.
Each torta is named for a different sports team in Mexico because Neza is ultra-fan number one. He’s just starting to gain flags in the shop and his uniform is a Puma jersey. He even has a tattoo of the puma on his hand (among other cool ones). Throughout the day, you’ll see him or his staff preparing ingredients fresh – this is another way it stands out. They work hard and love what they are doing. Possibly even better than the tortas are their toasted chili sauce and escabeche (pickled peppers). Put a little heat on your tacos. It will turn it outstanding.
Neza’s king of sandwiches is the Torta Puma.
- Torta roll
- chili sauce
- griddled ham
- griddled head cheese
- huge fried chicken cutlet
- chilli pepper
- chorizo and egg omelette
- a heaping handful of quesillo cheese
- and 3 deep fried hot dogs
The assembly of this sandwich is entertaining. More and more stuff being heaped on, specific preparations of one after another of contents. The mass of the thing equals no less than 3 separate tortas. You can tell this man has some experience making sandwiches, with the precision of his movements.
The first thing I do when I grab the heap is think: How do I eat this?? It’s 4 inches tall and a complete mess. It’s actually proportionally low carb. The roll barely holds it in and it’s impossible to get a bun to bun bite, so at first I just put my mouth to the plate and attack. There are many times throughout the sandwich where you are eating 100 percent meat. Salty, fatty, delectable meat.
This is the type of meal you need a shower after.
Halfway through, my metabolism starts to heat up. I can feel those damn spice nitrate hot dogs salting up my mouth flesh, and the back of my neck starts to tingle. The sandwich is wholly delicious, but these hot dogs are killer.
I know I’ll finish it. I’m almost full, but even so, there’s plenty of room left. At this point, my biggest fear is upon exit, were someone to run by and punch me in the stomach. I’d definitely break down at that point. When you eat a sandwich like this, it makes you delusional.
I grab a grapefruit Jarritos, trying to fool myself into thinking it will cut the grease. It may have helped, I don’t know. My head feels lightheaded, I think the salt is drying out my brain.
At about the 3/4 point, I stop eating the scraps off my plate. I realize that it’s no longer about sustenance, but about accomplishment. I’m full, and now it’s just the drive of testosterone. I’m alone in the shop and Neza chimes in from time to time about my progress, “Is that enough??” I hallucinate that I am a football club, and finishing the last bite is means a win for Woodside. I will finish.
I take it down. I doubt I will eat for another 24 hours; the calorie count must be in the 2k range. In the end, I do leave half a hot dog on my plate. It was just too much nitrate. Doesn’t matter, I did it. This place is a treasure.