El Bandito

This is a specialty of two local Mexican restaurants that have a deep, sordid past together. It is a tortilla with beans, cheese and other garnish, a little like a tostada, but much tastier. It’s like a lighter version of my gut-busting cheese crisp.


For 20 people, the quantities of my shopping list turn out to be:

I don’t use chopped onions, chilis or tomatoes. Instead, I make a recipe of my pico de gallo and spread it on—muy fácil. I still use the little canned, mild green chilis, however.

Shopping List

  flour tortillas whose diameter can be accommodated by your oven-proof plates
  refried beans
  cheddar cheese, grated
  jack cheese, grated
  tiny can green chilis in sauce or finely diced mild chilis like Anaheims
  very finely diced, fresh tomatoes
  very finely diced onion, slightly clarified
  cooked, shredded chicken (optional)
  shredded iceberg or romaine
  sliced jalapeños chilis
  cilantro (optional)
  sour cream
  avocados made into guacamole


1. Create a mise en place of all the garnish to go on the bandito: lettuce, sliced jalapeño peppers, very finely diced tomatoes, onions and mild chilis, etc. I lightly clarify the onions and chilis (If raw) before hand to make them more digestible for some of my guests who routinely complain about this. Prepare the guacamole and sour cream. Grate both jack and cheddar cheeses. Warm a pot of refried beans leaving them quite liquid as compared to how they came in the can by adding water.

2. Lightly (deep-fat) fry a tortilla in very hot oil and lay it on an oven-proof plate. Spread about ⅛-¼ maximum refried beans, sprinkle with tomatoes, onions, mild chili peppers. Top with a layer of intermingled cheeses that spills over the edge of the tortilla.

3. Place in hot oven or under broiler for a few minutes taking care not to burn, but to melt the cheeses.

4. After cheeses melt, remove from oven and garnish with chicken (if desired), lettuce and top with sour cream and guacamole. Serve immediately. The previously fried tortilla will be crispy and easy to cut; there is no need to precut as if a quesadilla.