To be honest, I've never shopped at the El Metate chain of supermarkets–no need. But I'm familiar with their tortillas, because the Soho Taco guys use them for their tacos whenever they're not doing their awesome hand-made ones. After one recent taquiza for the Weeklings, they had the big ol' stack you see above and gave them to me–I had paid them for the tacos, after all.
The Soho Taco taco is a wonderful thing, of course, but the El Metate tortilla? Had never given it a thought. And when I examined the tortilla, free of any fillings, I didn't expect much. It's a bit small, kind of thin, and seemingly lackluster.
Then, it hit the comal.
They heated well–no quick cooking on account of its thinness. Good sign…and then I rolled one up and chewed. The flavor! Despite the small size of these El Metate tortillas, and my preference for thicker tortillas, the beauty of nixtamalazation hits your palate immediately: that wonderful synthesis of stone and corn that the namesake metate creates. Though thin, the tortilla has a good chew factor–the flavor doesn't immediately disintegrate, but rather lingers. I can now see why the Soho guys use these beauties: good structure, good flavor, and coming at five dozen to a pack, it's the tortilla for taqueros.
GRADE: B. Despite being small guys, their flavor is near-perfect. I'm a bit biased in my grading given my preference in tortillas, though; they would easily be an A- if they were bigger and thicker. Hmm…does El Metate make thicker tortillas? Gotta check it out…
Find your nearest El Metate on their website.