Carreras Cemitas in Long Beach has great lunchtime Mexican food

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Piled high with Mexican cheeses, avocado and meat, Carreras' cemitas are sandwiches to be reckoned with

Name of restaurant: Carreras Cemitas of LCP.

Chef/Owner: Abraham Quitl, whose parents ran the La China Poblana food truck back in the day. His brother runs Cemitas China Poblana in Boyle Heights. 

Concept: Pueblan sandwiches — meat, slabs of creamy panela cheese, a tangle of Oaxacan string cheese, half a ripe avocado on a sesame-sprinkled bun ... and that’s just getting started. 

They also serve the same meats in burritos and tacos and even a bowl with rice and beans, but that seems beside the point, doesn’t it?

What dish represents the restaurant, and why?: The pork stewed in green chile until it’s almost creamy, then piled on the bun with everything else is Quitl’s favorite — and it’s a good one. 

In season (roughly April to September), the restaurant gets the papalo herb from Puebla, and then the go-to sandwich becomes the pata vinagre, made with stewed beef tendon.

Runner-up: Another favorite is the milanesa — beef pounded thin, lightly breaded and seared on both sides. Think of it as the Mexican version of chicken-fried steak.

Return favorite: Stripped to the cemitas’ essentials, you have a quesillo, which is nothing more than the usual sandwich minus the meat but with a sprightly chipotle sauce. It’s hard to beat.

Who’s at the next table: There are some customers from the neighborhood, but it seems to be mostly people who work in the area.

Appropriate for: Lunch, obviously, but also great for a casual dinner. 

Uh-oh: Carreras Cemitas is smack in the middle of Naples island in Long Beach, full of million-dollar homes with private boat docks — perhaps not the most obvious location for great Mexican street food. Business seems a little touch-and-go.

Service: This is a one-man band and every sandwich is made to order, so production can slow down a little. If you’re looking for a quick in-and-out, call in your order ahead.

What are you drinking? Bottled Jarritos or Mexican Coke.

Carreras Cemitas of LCP, 5650 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 438-2428, on Facebook.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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