Some might say the foundation of a great taco is the tortilla.
When Luis Perez opened Tortilleria La Norteña in Oak Cliff in 2014, he wanted to make a tortilla that reminded him of those his mom served him as a kid in the Northern Mexico state of Sonora, which has its own style of tortillas.
“To me, Sonoran style is the only way,“ Perez says. ”My earliest memories as a child involve tortillas de harina [flour] and frijoles [beans]. It's embedded in my brain. Growing up watching my mother make them was a true joy.
“The proper way to mix, the right amount of manteca [lard] and milk, and the proper way to rest and expand. It takes time, patience and lots of love for the ones who will eat them.”
Perez has tapped into the tortilla market and continues to build the brand to make it one of the best tortillas in Dallas and Texas.
These don't use yeast, baking powder or any other “fluffer.” After fine-tuning the recipe, he found a way to mass-produce great tortillas that are used by multiple restaurants and taquerias around Dallas, Austin and Houston.
“Tacodeli has always enjoyed working with Luis and La Nortena, and we are very proud of our friendship over the years,“ says Roberto Espinosa of Tacodeli ”He's got a hands-on, local entrepreneurial spirit and makes a very high-quality product. His tortillas taste as homemade as homemade gets, they are delicious.”
While most Texans are used to fluffy flour tortillas, the tortillas from La Norteña are another great option for tacos, quesadillas or burritos. While the tortillas are not thick and fluffy, they do not break when folded around precious proteins.
One reason for this is in the cooling process, which is done before the tortillas are packaged. The tortillas are cooled, allowing them to remain flexible, and they stay that way when reheated and eaten.
La Norteña also sells tortillas to the public; you can call or go to the location in Oak Cliff and purchase packages of 20 tortillas.
If you need tortillas for your family breakfast or for a larger event, La Norteña welcomes walk-in customers (who have to follow the COVID-19 protocols posted on the door), and staff recommends calling in your order for easy curbside pickup.
Norteña sells flour tortillas, wheat tortillas and both blue and yellow corn tortillas. Perez offers a contactless delivery service for his commercial customers (there is no other delivery service available at this time).
Perez said that when the pandemic hit, he and his staff had to evaluate business and make some changes to keep afloat.
Since most of his customers are taquerias, restaurants and hotels, he saw a large drop in business. All of his staff was able to stay employed, but the workdays were cut and schedules were changed based on orders and business requests.
“It has been a very emotional ride. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to cut back our hours of operation due to the lack of orders. At one point, we took a whole week off. It was very scary for me to contemplate an exit strategy, but it was necessary given the situation,“ Perez says. ”Due to the size of our company, [the Paycheck Protection Program] did not even look at us.
The pandemic did force him to start working on his website and other digital platforms, which he says he will start using for orders in early 2021.
And if excellent tortillas aren’t enough, when Perez is not working on his main business of tortillas, you can hear him as a Spanish radio broadcaster for the Dallas Cowboys. Perez has over 20 years in broadcasting and left all outlets except the Dallas Cowboys to pursue his passion of making food.
“Tortillas is my foundation,“ he says. ”But ultimately, I want to feed people good food.”
Tortilleria La Norteña, 3215 W. Davis St., (North Oak Cliff). 214-337-0220. Open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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