They come from all over - including the suburbs - to get a bite of a Mexican sandwich that is replicated in Chicago with eerie accuracy.
"Most people haven't heard about it. It comes from Puebla, Puebla Mexico. It's sold in the streets and it's sold in the markets," said Tony Anteliz, who owns Cemitas Puebla with his father.
And it's sold at Cemitas Puebla, a Humboldt Park mom-and-pop restaurant where the "atomica" version is a big seller. The name comes from the bread. Serving as a base and crown, it's a soft Mexican sesame seed roll produced by a Mexican bakery in the neighborhood. There's a schmear of avocado, a jolt of chipotle sauce, plus three types of pork: roasted with salsa, boiled and sliced, as well as breaded and deep-fried. Topped off with shredded Oaxacan cheese, it's more than a mouthful.
"So what you have at the end of the day is a real nice big sandwich," Anteliz said.
First, the bread is enhanced by creamy avocado and spicy chipotle, before getting a slight toast on the grill. Then three simultaneous fillings get assembled. First, carne enchilada - pork tenderloin thats been marinated in a sweet and spicy guajillo sauce followed by some sliced Krakus Polish ham that's heated up on the grill.. and finally, a thinly-pounded and marinated pork loin rolled in fine breadcrumbs ... then quickly deep-fried until crisp. All three of those porky elements are stacked onto the bread, and the crowning touch comes in the form of that rare, hard-to-find Oaxacan cheese.
"Good Oaxacan cheese is hard to get. You can go down the street and get Oaxacan cheese but it's not going to be real Oaxacan cheese. So the one that we get is..is the real deal," said Anteliz.
They also offer three different types of homemade salsas at the table, just in case you want to enhance the sandwich. Anteliz says his regulars always come back because the sandwich literally transports them to another time and place.
"You get someone that hasn't been to Puebla in for 30 years and they come here and they try it, and they're like, 'oh my God you bought me back to when I was a kid," he said.
Now if you're not a fan of pork, they also have sandwiches here featuring steak or chicken or vegetarian, like this one, featuring zucchini and mushrooms. But the key is that cemita - the namesake bread - which really makes this sandwich unique.
3619 W North Ave