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Jun 20, 2013 12:15 PM

Hand-made tortillas

One of the odder things about Mexico City is that you sometimes have to hunt for hand-made tortillas, apart from those you get at a decent restaurant when dining.

You can usually find somebody selling them at the various weekly tianguis set up around town. And at places like the Mercado San Juan.

But the best I've found so far is a place waaaay down south where you can buy them hot off the comal for about 15 pesos a kilo. It's up in Ajusco territory at the corner of Yobain and Tepekan. Check a map before trying to find it. It's alongside a Michoacana ice cream shop and it faces a vacant lot. If you go looking for it, consult a map. The best thing to do is go west off Picacho-Ajusco around Hokoba or Concal and go west to Yobain, then head south of the hill from there.

Anybody know of other places that sell hot hand-made tortillas, outside of restaurants?

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  1. John, the short answer is no.

    The longer answer is, "Where are you finding restaurants in the DF and surrounding area that serve hot hand-made tortillas?" I see blue corn tortillas that come from presses, mostly at La Lagunilla, where they can be decent when eaten right off the comal (griddle). But hand-made? Nope. Never seen one in the DF.

    My experience is that tortillas in the DF are pretty uniformly awful. Bought from a tortillería, they're the worst. Bought at my neighborhood tianguis, they're a couple of steps up. But mercy, generally they're not worth eating. The practice at 99.9% of tortillerías here is to grind unsold, cold tortillas back into the masa--which is usually Maseca, not nixtamal. And the masa is usually extended by throwing olotes (corn cobs) into the masa and grinding *those* into it. Those things combine to make tortillas that taste and feel like cardboard. All in all, my experience after two years in the DF is that a good tortilla is all but impossible to find.

    Let me know where and I'm there.


    7 Replies
    1. re: cristina

      Cristina, I see Grupo Bimbo's packaged Milpa Real brand tortillas on shelves, putting tortillerias in pueblitos out of business and disrupting the local economies as WalMart does.
      I didn't know that tortilla makers in D.F. are throwing in everything but the squeal. Small town or big city, harder to find the real deal.

      1. re: Veggo

        Veggo, that makes me ill.

        The best tortillas in the República are just about everywhere in Michoacán. Really nixtamal, really ground on the metate, really patted by hand, really cooked on the comal. Really miss them.


      2. re: cristina

        Wow, this makes me so sad. It's one thing for us in Alta California to complain about the quality of tortillas usually available to us, but I did not expect to read the same about DF.

        I will say that my complaint in my trip to Ensenada a few months ago was the poor quality of the corn tortillas. Only one spot offered up corn tortillas that had any flavor. Reading your description of recycling tortillas or adding in the cobs, I imagine that some of the same applies there.

        1. re: cristina

          > The practice at 99.9% of tortillerías here is to grind unsold, cold tortillas back into the masa

          I'd like to know how you arrived at this conclusion. On what basis you make this statement.

          1. re: Soul Vole

            Soul Vole, in addition to confirming the information in Claudio Hall's post, I know several women who have worked in tortillerias in Mexico City. Each of them has given me that same information, and each decided that she no longer wanted to work in an establishment that would do that.


            1. re: cristina

              Claudio Hall's post doesn't in any way confirm your claim, and 99.9% is a very strong and grave assertion. You're directing an accusation at 999 out of 1000 tortillerias in a city of 21 million people.

              So it turns out you've heard this from a couple or few disenchanted women who've worked in tortillerias. Well, some substantiation is better than none. And now at least we know the nature and quality of your information.

          2. re: cristina

            I've spent many years in Mexico City and environs. Tortillas are subsidized by the government. I believe WalMart sells below the government set price.

            Anyway, that said, people can just about afford the subsidized tortillas. How do you expect them to buy tortillas made by hand on a metate?

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. If you're willing to go to Ajusco then I would try the central markets in Cuernavaca, Mor. and if you're willing to go even farther, Iguala and Huitzuco, Guerrero.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ninasfamily

                Actually, it's really not all that far if you start from the southern part of the city. It's fairly close to Six Flags, for example.

                There are lots of great tortillas scattered around the countryside. Michoacan, as folks have mentioned, and Oaxaca (there's a gourmet tortilla shop in Oaxaca city).

                Much of the DF is rural. You might try Xochimilco and Milpa Alta.

              2. I was in Actopan, Hidalgo and in this town all the of the tortillas are from nixtamal. You couldn't make it on Maseca there. It was very inspiring!