As many of us from Oakland Park, you may have noticed Tortilleria Mexicana located at 4115 N Dixie Hwy in Oakland Park and thought it was a specialized supermarket with authentic goods from Mexico – which is correct! However, there is so much more to know about Tortilleria Mexicana. Coincidently, my husband and I have lived in Oakland Park for almost ten years and only recently became familiar with Tortilleria Mexicana.
We learned they were also a Mexican restaurant when we found their menu on a food delivery service app so we decided to visit them. After our initial visit, we were impressed with the quality and taste of the food, the friendly service, and the cozy feel of the restaurant. While we were dining, we noticed a constant flow of traffic, where patrons headed towards “coolers” located near the register area, and dug out these round packages, which we later learned, were the homemade corn tortillas available for purchase to take home.
We kept hearing more buzz from other Oakland Park residents about the “best homemade tortillas” in town found at Tortilleria Mexicana. So of course, we HAD to know more! This past week I had the pleasure to meet with Jonathan Guerrero who owns Tortilleria Mexicana along with his mother María Saldivar, and they brought me on the journey of how and why their tortillas have been hailed the best in town for almost 20 years!
Maria and Jonathan are from the beautiful state of Querétaro, Mexico. In the 1990s they migrated to the state of California and in 2002 they moved to Oakland Park, Florida. Their business first started with them providing fresh warm “made from scratch” corn tortillas. Eventually, they began to offer ethnic products from Mexico, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. It was around this time that their initial customers, who had tried and loved their authentic tortillas also suggested they offer authentic Mexican meal options to accompany their delicious tortillas. Tortilleria Mexicana is a very family-oriented run business, so collectively they decided to venture out and the preparation of authentic meals to their roster of choices.
The business is run by a tight-knit family and you can tell this by the quality of the products they produce. They start prepping for the day at 6 am, where they initiate the process to prepare “la masa” (dough) for the tortillas and prep the fresh ingredients for their menu items. The dough, which is made up of 2 ingredients “masa harina” (“dough flour” and is different from corn flour or cornmeal because the corn is soaked in lime water) and water, is mixed and kneaded in a commercial style appliance and then transferred to a feeder where it portions out the right amount for an individual tortilla. The tortilla is then run down the line and in the end, someone is patting the tortillas together and prepping them to be packaged for consumers.
Jonathan mentions, “We’re very family-oriented and when 6 am rolls around for the opening time, everyone from our staff has their special touch of love we give out to our Mexican food craft and the family-style environment part is which is a very important ingredient of our daily service that you can get.”
On a typical day, they can make up to 3,000 tortillas! It all depends on the demand… if there are pre-orders or special catering orders etc. And they usually stop making tortillas around 9 am. I was also glad to learn that there is hardly any waste because the business is also a restaurant the tortillas are used to accompany their meals and if there are any leftover tortillas they re-purpose them by making homemade tortillas chips which can be purchased for home or enjoyed at the restaurant! As for other items that can be found on their menu, you will see that their menu items boast an array of choices ranging from barbacoa, tamales, carnitas, mole, enchiladas, fresh Chile Rellenos and other exotic varieties items of foods, meats, and bread.
More and more people became aware of the availability of these fresh homemade tortillas, so the owners began their expansion plans. They added a seating area for their restaurant patrons allowing for the option of “dining in”. Their growth does not stop there, they are also now offering their tortillas to other restaurants and supermarkets so they can also provide customers with fresh corn tortillas. The family is thrilled to expand into other markets because as Jonathon says “Our goal from the beginning was to provide customers with fresh warm and made from scratch corn tortillas my mother and I love the opportunity of serving Oakland park for almost 20 years now of providing a little bit of our culture”.
Maria Scudella-Beltran was born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, right outside of New York City. She moved to South Florida in 2004 and graduated from Florida International University with a bachelors’ degree in Marketing and Communications.
In 2010, she purchased her first home in the North Andrews Gardens area in Oakland Park. After several years of working in the retail industry, Maria took on a part-time internship at a marketing agency and continued her education through Walden University where she earned her Master’s degree in Marketing and Communications.
Currently, she works in Marketing and during her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and traveling.