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Jun 29, 2010 08:16 AM

Tortillas/GOOD Mexican food in either Cambridge or Malden?

Hi Beantown CHers, a Tucson based CHer here.

My best friend (from AZ as well) moved to your fine part of the country 2 years ago. After growing up on Sonoran Mexican food, obviously she has hankerings for the real thing from time to time. I do my best by shipping her local tortillas, frozen salsas and refried beans, but I simply cannot do that during the summer. No joke - I visited a year or so ago and had to bring 6 pounds of flour and corn tortillas.

Are there any tortilla factories in the area? Are there any pockets of Mexicans in the Greater Boston area? Also, what are your recs for really good Mexican food in Cambridge/Malden? Any information would be much appreciated, and thank you in advance.

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    1. Tortillas -- for local you have Cinco de Mayo brand (corn). They are okay and many taco joints use them. They are sold at Market Basket (local supermarket chain) and they can even be very good if you get them warm from the delivery guy. We used to have flour by Maria and Carlos but I haven't seen them around lately. Whole foods flour tortillas are an acceptable substitute.

      for Mexican food -- many of our local taco joints are run by Salvadoreans. Not a big deal but if you are looking for Mexican food cooked by Mexican people, there are a few options:

      Cantina La Mexicana, Union Square Somerville -- good carnitas, very good nachos, good chile rellenos, tamales

      Taqueria el Amigo, Waltham -- kind of a schlepp but very good tongue tacos and maybe my favorite carnitas in town.

      Tu y Yo, Somerville -- downhill reports lately but I have enjoyed the Sunday brunch here for good huevos dishes.

      Second Angela's rec.

      Others like it, but I would avoid Mexico Lindo in Melrose.

      Tu Y Yo Mexican Fonda
      858 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

      1. The best, easily available flour tortillas that we have found at a store are at Trader Joes.

        Trader Joe's
        1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

        7 Replies
        1. re: Cachetes

          Thanks about TJ's, but I'm trying to help her find fresh, REAL tortillas (ie, made with lard). We have TJ's here, so I am familiar with their products.

          1. re: missvenuz

            As there aren't really that many Mexicans in Boston, there isn't that much Mexican food.

            I know of no place making tortillas in bulk with lard. That would not acceptable to any company's customer base here in Boston.

            1. re: fishmanator

              Oh well, that's unfortunate. I guess I'll look up a good recipe and send it her way. Thanks.

              1. re: missvenuz

                It is kinda sad that our best flour tortilla options are supermarket picks. But don't discount the corn CdM brand. Not gonna scratch your Sonoran itch, but it's what we got.

            2. re: missvenuz

              If the Somerville Market Basket doesn't have them, I don't know where else you can look.

              1. re: three of us

                I've tried there, and at the MB in Chelsea and never had any luck. The Mexican population in the area tends to be from central Mexico, so that is going to hurt the OP's cause even more.

                I imagine that there are some women who are cooking fresh tortillas daily for the local Mexican population, but, if they exist, they are likely selling directly and only to the immediate community/people they know. I don't know how the OP would tap in to that.

              2. re: missvenuz

                There are some little stores in Waltham. La Dispensa Popular on Lexington St near where it meets Main St. across from the parking lot entrance, or another store on Moody St. and there is another on Main not far from Moody St., I also buy the corn ones from Cinco de Mayo brand. For flour I just don't know.

                The best local flatbread is the one made by the Armenians with stores on Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown.

            3. It would help to provide a bit more insight into the geography: eg lives in Malden, works in _X_ part of Cambridge. Recommendations such as Waltham are going to be far from their commute if its Malden/East Cambridge, but could be great if they live in West Cambridge and can go there on the weekends.

              Near Malden they can get the Stop and Shop Nature's Promise flour tortillas at S&S (the Malden one has a decent Peruvian section, but not so great central American) and just south of the center on Ferry (before the Pasta Market Cafe) there is a decent sized Salvadoran market which carries the Cinco de Mayo tortillas fresh. In Everett at Ferry St and Broadway, La Sultana Market carries a good selection of salvadoran dry and fresh cheeses including a couple of local ones, plus the CdM. The Hong Kong Market on Commercial carries some central american dry food goods, McKinnon's Meat Market in Everett has some central american oriented meats and frozen goods, Rosebud farms has some other dry food goods and may carry some chiles. The Chelsea Market Basket is close and will mostly have the freshest CdM tortillas, but you can find a better selection of Mexican goods at bodegas in Chelsea and East Boston.

              In Cambridge the Somerville Market Basket is best for CdM, the Nature's Harvest Brand is available at the S&S Star Market which has some centro-american foods, as well as another La Sultana and Tony's Foodland and Amigo's Market (salvadoran cheeses, frozen prepared goods). They could try the fresh flour tortillas from Piantedosi bakery in Malden which probably won't float their boat as they are wrap style (and not inexpensive), but they are fresh and closer than what they would get from the Watertown places.

              Although Salvadoran and Guatemalan communities are traditionally strong in the area (going back to the Regan administration), there has been more and more Mexican migration to Chelsea, Lynn, East Boston, Metro West + Waltham, and Springfield so there are more mexicans living in the area than you expect. Central Falls to our South has even more options (and there are some tortilla factories down there which wouldn't get covered on the Boston board, plus a better proximity to NYC for some goods).

              The Cinco de Mayo product is worth your friend checking out. A lot of the better Salvadoran restaurants make their own gorditas, the better ones are worth checking out (although made from masa harina in most cases). We have a dizzying array of bakeries which make flour tortillas, but primarily for wraps or for other cultures. So far most of our hops have been dashed, but who knows if one will pop up soon (I did like the flour tortillas which Dorado in Brookline made or procured). None with lard yet though, strictly a DiY, although you can buy flour tortilla mix (which seems unnecessary).