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Tortillas in Berkeley.

ISO a corn tortilla source in Berkeley or E.C.. Oakland or Richmond if I must. Fresh or packaged. Looking for the thickish (1/16-1/8") 5" dia. ones like those served at Taq S.J., various Oak/Richmond taco trucks, Baja street vendors and millions of other places. I'm tired of the thin, pale, yuppie supermarket ones. TIA.

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  1. La Finca tortillas delivered fresh every day to Mi Tierra one block south of University on San Pablo.

    1. I second these tortillas. They are often so fresh that they are still steaming in the bag a little. You can getthem in a variety of sizes. Also, you can actually recognize of the ingredients listed: water, corn, lime (probably means the "lime" used to swell the corn kernels, not citrus).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jess Leber

        In the context of making nixtamal for masa, "lime" is calcium hydroxide.

      2. That's funny. I would consider the thick ones the yuppie ones. But they can be good (or leaden).
        Also be aware if the tortillas are very yellow, it could mean they haven't rinsed the lime (CaL) very well and they will have a disturbing chemical aftertaste, but last for months. Check out Trader Joes Organic Corn Tortillas for an example.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Earl Grey

          I've never projected "yuppie" onto a tortilla but I do consider thick ones to be Americanized.

          I was recently in Mexico (Guadalajara & Arandas) and ate about a million tacos & tortillas. I was struck at how thin, delecate and wonderful they all were, especially when compared to any I've had in at taco stands, supermarkets and really anywhere in the US.

          So I've been on a search for the most "authentic" Guadalajaran tortilla which seems to be the exact opposite of the search by the OP.

          1. re: larochelle

            The best I've had in GDL are made to order from fresh masa.

            That's hard to find around here. Funny given how common pupusas are. El Huarache Azteca makes other stuff from fresh masa, but I don't think their tortillas are patted out to order.

            1. re: larochelle

              Definitely try the new ones that La Palma on 24th St. is selling by the kilo. They are rather large, not the thick type since they're thin and are only sold at La Palma. They started selling them about 2 months ago.

              I don't consider the thick ones to be yuppie either. I particularly like them when making quesadillas.

              1. re: Mari

                I am a regular at La Palma. In fact, I was just there (& Casa Lucas) picking up supplies for Christmas Eve dinner and did not notice any new offerings in the way of tortillas.

                Since you mention "two months ago", I think you must be referring to the automatic tortilla machine they started using about then. I think those are terrible! I considered them to be of average thickness, nowhere near as thin as what I'm looking for. I bought some right after they put the machine in - the tortillas tasted okay the first day but they went bad quickly and got tough. I'd never buy them again.

                Those automatic tortilla machines are quite prevalent throughout Texas and the Southwest and I've had some very good tortillas made on them, but La Palma is doing something seriously wrong with theirs.

                1. re: larochelle

                  Too bad, I thought they were good. Many of my relatives visit from Guadalajara and declare our tortillas better than theirs, go figure.

                  The reason for why they get so gross right away is that they don't have any preservatives, so they must be refrigerated and consumed within days. It's hard to find tortillas without preservatives. Other good ones are from La Tapatia in SSF. Those are rarely sold in SF, so you'll have to trek to SSF.

              2. re: larochelle

                The thinnest tortillas I've had in the area are at Cazadores Market in Richmond and San Pablo. They make their own lardy, thin and flakey tortillas. There was a pronounced taste of lime ... as in the mineral not the citrus fruit.

                The San Pablo Market has them delivered from the bakery in Richmond and they keep them in an insulated picnic container.

                I will warn you that if you go to the Richmond location, this is as hard-core Mexican as you will get. It is like some of the joints you see along the road in Tiajuana as you leave town and travel up Baja. It is Richmond at it's most Richmond. It took me a bit to work up to stepping inside ... and ... I kid you not ... the combo chihuahua/pit bull tied to the door didn't help ... luckily this sweet dog had the best of both breeds personality-wise. Think ‘Little Rascals dog’ bred with the Taco Bell Chihuahua

                They make more salsas than most local markets and I think they supply some of the local restaurants because the salsas are familiar.

                Here's the link with the addresses at the bottom.

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/336064

                As to authenticity ... when I worked in Mexico City, most of the tortillas were thin. Living here in Richmond, I'd say there are a variety. Some of the thicker tortillas seem to cater to the Central American market, but there are lots of styles. I would say the yuppie version are the ones with a list of chemicals and perservatives. Read the labels. Also, anybag over $2 where you don't have enough tortillas to wallpaper a room is usually a yuppie tortilla.

                1. re: rworange

                  Interesting. I may have to make the trek from SF to check it them out.

                  I do volunteer work for a non-profit in Fruitvale and in-laws have a restaurant in downtown Oakland so I do make it to the East Bay occasionally but I think in 25 years of living in SF, I've probably only been to Richmond twice.

            2. I bought tortillas from the man who sells at the Berkeley Farmers market for a massive enchilada project a few months ago, and they were incredible. Not cheap, though.

              1. As far as Berkeley, Mi Fiesta has a good selection. They also sell my favorite tortilla from Taqueria El Maguey.

                They are in the bag with the gold label and are the local gold-standard, IMO. Thicker than most, I stopped by the bakery in Oakland (no retail) and they had pots and pots of real corn cobs ... I mean they REALLY start from scratch ... and the quality shows. They are thick with some brown blistering and have a toasted corn taste to them.
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41628

                For an all-around good tortilla, I think La Borinquena Mexicatessan is the best. They are often still warm and the car fills with the most wonderful fragrance. From the linked post

                "There was the fragrant smell of green corn husks to these tortillas. Ingredients corn, water & lime. Another poster wrote ...

                “... they are usually still warm when you pick them up. They are a little larger than the norm and have wonderful flavor ... And the tortilla chips and tostada shells they make from those tortillas are toe-curling good!”
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/316530

                Another local tortilla I like a lot is sold at La Loma markets in Richmond - # 11 is the source. These are thin, sort of your taco truck taco. They also sell thicker Central American types, but I haven't tried those yet.

                I find them addictive. They are made by hand, the ladies putting the tortillas in the press one at a time.

                They are thick and slightly under-cooked with a few light griddle marks. There is a delicious smoky taste and aroma. They make swell quesadillas or just to eat on the side with a dish. They are not the type of tortillas that can be used for a taco or a burrito because if they are folded, they crack in half. I’m not sure where that smoke is coming from, the ingredients just say corn, flour and water. Maybe the corn is roasted?

                They are made at #11, the nicer store, and delivered to #5.
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/327646

                1. a hearty second for La Borinquena, and they have fresh chicharones tambien, ese...
                  (hefty tamales there with sweet ones usually avail around the
                  holidays as well) A good source for mexican grocery items
                  (and the Food Maxx store in San Pablo is very good source if
                  you are into cooking las comidas mexicanas)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jonnypea

                    Well, there you go ... Food Maxx is the closest large market near me and in the two years I've lived here, I never stepped inside. Will have to check it out.

                    1. re: jonnypea

                      I like the tamales from the place around the corner better than the ones at La Borinquena and honestly, I like All Star better than both of them.

                      Also, while La Borinquena does have grocery items, I have not found any that can't be found in other Mexican grocery stores and if you consider that its a stand-alone place, the selection is worse. At least on 24th Street in the Mission, I can hit multiple places until I have everything I need and the same goes for Int'l Ave in Fruitvale.

                      1. re: larochelle

                        For standard Mexican items, La Boriquena really has a limited supply. However, they do have odd items the other places don't have like dried New Mexican peppers or chocolate others don't carry. Not the first place I'd do standard shopping, but a stop if I'm looking for something unusual.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Interesting. I've got excellent and trusted sources for dried peppers but I'd love to here about the chocolate that they carry - what kind(s)?

                          1. re: larochelle

                            Eh, I'll look more closely next time. I've been cruising a lot of Mexican markets and saw a few of the hot chocolate variety I hadn't noticed before. Probably nothing to go out of your way for, but if in the neighborhood ...

                    2. In the east bay you can often buy Primavera thick tortillas at the Bowl. They are almost as good as the ones at La Palma Mexicatessan on 24th. Those, hot off the griddle and thick are so good your brains will fall out. You will not make it home without eating one or two.

                      I understand that thick tortillas are more typical of Central America, maybe El Salvador, than of Mexicao.

                      Tthey are best heated over a burner or on a comal, not, god forbid, steamed.