Adobada tacos from Taquería Zapata, made on corn tortillas made by Tortilleria Adelita
I got lucky this time: there were only two people in line. It would still take five or six minutes to reach the front, but considering the near 30-minute wait I found on my last visit, this felt like nothing.
3245 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
Not that the half hour wait for fresh tortillas isn’t worth it. Tortilleria Adelita operates within Pancho Villa Farmers Market, the Mexican specialty grocer with locations in San Ysidro and City Heights. I’ve come to the latter to pick up such stuff as tomatillos, dried chili peppers, and comically large cans of hominy. But when I notice the tortilla line is short, I immediately claim my spot. A wise move. By the time I reach the front, it continues outside the supermarket entrance.
Adelita attracts long lines to its spot between produce and dairy
Why would people wait for tortillas? Because they’re made right there in front of you, pressed and grilled on a large, round comal that sits beneath a ventilation hood roughly between the produce and dairy sections. They’re so in demand the tortilleros barely keep up: the last of my small flour tortillas goes straight from the grill into my bag. The perfect combination of fluffy and elastic, these harina beauties are yummy enough to eat on their own. They’ll still be warm when I get them home.
But first, I have another stop to make, just on the outside the grocery. There, from a window counter facing the Pancho Villa parking lot, Taquería Zapata dishes up tacos made on Adelita’s terrific corn tortillas.
Taquería Zapata, serving street tacos on the outside of the Pancho Villa market
For years, the counter has kept its street tacos under two bucks apiece — and still does, sorta. They go two for $4 now, which means I’m going to eat four today. In a way, the twofer pricing will protect me from myself. I might have settled for three tacos, otherwise, and missed out on that filling fourth.
There aren’t as many taco options as I remember: at least, there’s no longer carne asada or birria tacos on the menu. But it’s not exactly a hardship to sample what remains. Best are the pork options: achiote seasoned adobada with red salsa and a dollop of guacamole, and similarly dressed carnitas. The beef cabeza was tender enough, but not as flavorful as I’m used to.
A carnitas taco (left) and a cabeza taco (right)
But I’m only parsing at this point. All feature cilantro and diced onions, of course, but the reason they stand out is the pair of fresh corn tortillas that fold around each one. The small tortillas are delightfully thick, and, made into tacos, slightly crispy at the edges, with just enough oil to make them interesting.
It was the sort of shopping trip that makes me glad to live in San Diego… and sorry for people in other parts of the country who don’t have access to fresh-made tortillas.