Rubalcava's wonders
Rubalcava's wonders

Tortilla Tuesday: Flour Tortillas at Rubalcava's Market AKA Best Flour Tortillas in Southern California

In the borderlands, a flour tortilla is sacramental, holy, filling, the true daily bread: fluffy, filling, thick, pliable, toothsome love. In Southern California? Universally, shit.

I've eaten tortillas my entire life, and the flour versions have only been consumed out of necessity for quesadillas (due to their large size) and for burritos (for the obvious reasons); other than that, there's no reason for them. I've eaten flour tortillas made in San Diego, made in Los Angeles, made in Orange County, and none were memorable, most the same: tepid, thin discs better as Frisbees than for day-to-day consumption.

No bias on my part: while I do prefer corn to flour, I do know the magic of a great flour tortilla--the only flour tortillas my family will devour are the ones that whatever tía or tío made the last trek to Juarez or Tucson, and stocked up on hundreds, to dole out to the rest of the family. Here? Crap. That's why, whenever someone asked me where to get good flour tortillas in Orange County, I'd tell them there was no place--because there wasn't.

Until now. Ladies and germs: behold the best flour tortillas in Southern California, made by special request at Rubalcava's in Placentia.

About once a month, I trek up there to partake of Roland Rubalcava's awesome Sunday Primo-Mex secret menu: gargantuan Sonoran dogs, mac'n'cheese spiked with Sriracha, and other goodies. This past Sunday, Rubalcava surprised me with caldo de queso, that wondrous soup from Sonora that's soup stock, a hunk of queso Sonora, potatoes, and nothing else. Rubalcava played with tradition by switching queso menonita for the Sonora and adding a couple of chicken chicharrones, to accentuate the comforting sweetness of the broth--absolutely spectacular.

And then he brought out the flour tortillas.

Rubalcava's doesn't make their own tortillas, getting them from their cousins over at La Reina Tortilleria, which makes great corn tortillas but not flour. But Roland is a stickler for tradition, and eating corn tortillas with caldo de queso is like eating pho with a baguette. So he made a batch for the occasion, adding he's thinking of selling them in packs later this year.

Here are the tortillas of Sonora: thick, buttery, powdery, able to maintain their structural integrity in the cauldron that is the caldo de sopa, toasted perfectly with brown char marks that bring out the flour's slight sweetness. I rolled them up, and they didn't tear; I bit into them, and I had visions of a space coyote--they're THAT good.

But the true test awaited the following day: could they stand a reheating?

I stupidly had two folded in a to-go box, so they were a bit warped when I put them on the comal; didn't matter. Once heated, they unfolded like a blooming rose, retained the same revelatory greatness from when I first ate them. I have found my flour savior!

Grade: A+, the first tortillas in OC ever to get such a grade from our ruthless critics. Not only are these spectacular, but they get the plus for being able to elevate such a neglected art form in these parts.

Rubalcava said he learned the recipe from a family friend who, unsurprisingly, hails from Sonora. I'm telling you, folks: you should not accept flour tortillas not cooked by someone with connections to the borderlands, and Roland makes the real deal. Interested? Call in advance, as Rubalcava will only make them fresh. Order a dozen, enjoy them, and enjoy in the greatest Mexican accomplishment Orange County has produced since the Reconquista.

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