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Pandemic or Not, San Fernando Stays Loyal to Carrillo’s Chewy Flour Tortillas

1:15 PM PST on February 2, 2021

Welcome to Local Gems, our new monthly restaurant column presented by White Claw, the official hard seltzer of L.A. TACO. Each month we’ll honor neighborhood institutions that make delicious food and have stood the test of time all over Los Angeles. Read, order, share, and don’t be afraid to rep your community’s local gem in the comments.

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]With deep roots in the San Fernando Valley, Carrillo’s Tortilleria & Mexican Delicatessen has cemented itself as a culinary institution when it comes to time-honored guisados and tortillas.

With three locations and a history that spans more than 70 years and five generations in the Carrillo family, the tortilleria immediately conjures up feelings of nostalgia and delicious times among Valley residents. On any given day, dozens continue to frequent the restaurant for take-out during the pandemic.  

“Of course, the pozole, man,” Oscar Jaramillo of Sylmar tells L.A. Taco when asked what his favorite dish from the restaurant is. “But I’m here to buy some tortillas de harina for my week, which is the bomb, too!” 

“It’s just always been a part of my family. I was driving by and decided to pick up food for lunch. We always eat here on the weekends or come and take a pot of pozole home…..we’re just trying to help as much as we can.” Sandra from San Fernando commented. 

Their Sonoran-influenced tortillas de harina are the restaurant’s namesake item. In 2018, the flour-dusted chewy handmade beauties made it to the second round of the Great Tortilla Tournament of 2018. Still, the local community that usually packs the restaurants on weekends does not need tournaments and competitions because these tortillas speak for themselves; fluffy and perfect for rolling up and sop your favorite guisado all up. Available by the dozen as well. 

A restaurant like Carrillo’s that strives to keep their community content and full can never be stopped.

From the daily specials like the Chile Verde plate, the deep flavor and texture in their pozole on weekends, and the famous George Lopez Burrito. Having to decide on an item from the menu when it comes time to order will always have you second-guessing yourself. The time-honored tortilleria is also beloved by Valley-raised actor Danny Trejo, who listed it in his top three places to eat in the Valley. Carrillo’s famed masa had even reached the White House when former Vice President Al Gore came to the original location in September 2000. 

Growing up Latino in San Fernando, Carrillo’s has most likely been a part of your upbringing. Buying prepared masa every year for the holiday tamal season was always a given. Their steak and egg burrito loaded with salsa colorada has soothed countless hangovers. And, of course, the guiltiest pleasure in all the Valley: snacking on their extraordinarily crispy chicharrón, doused with lime juice & Valentina hot sauce as a snack.

The story of Carrillo’s continued success in 2021 is even more admirable in the age of COVID-19. Every precaution is taken seriously, and the restaurant has all of its rules posted on the front glass doors if you so desire to show up in person. The floor is spaced out, giving people six feet of room to stand at a distance from each other, and plexiglass has been installed to separate the cashiers from the hungry souls ordering their food. 

While the restaurant does take phone orders, a pre-recorded message directs you to order through Grubhub and Postmates for pick up when the phone line gets clogged up. From the looks, sounds, and smells contained within their walls, a restaurant like Carrillo’s that strives to keep their community content and full can never be stopped.

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