Time Out Melbourne

La Tortilleria brings a slice of Mexico to inner Melbourne

As the Mexican wave swept Melbourne, Diana Hull couldn’t shake the feeling that something was amiss. Back in Mexico, the best tortillas are made with whole stoneground nixtamalised corn (dried corn that’s been treated with an alkali solution). But in Melbourne the only option was pre-soaked, dried and pre-ground corn flour (masa, which you can buy at Casa Iberica on Johnston Street if you want to make them at home). It’s not bad, but nothing like getting them hot and fresh from a dedicated tortilleria – which is what most Mexicans do, incidentally. So, Hull and partner Gerardo Lopez went out on a limb, ordered up a few thousand bucks’ worth of tortilla-making equipment, and set up Melbourne’s first tortilleria using whole corn. Trust us – unless you’ve got an Aztec granny, these are the best tortillas you’re gonna lay your hands on in Melbourne.

The process starts with whole Australian corn maize that’s soaked and cooked overnight with calcium hydroxide and stone ground to make a thick dough. It’s fed into a machine that pats and flips until, like magic, soft yellow discs emerge. Between 2000 and 4500 are made per day and the intoxicating scent is like corn cake baking.

La Tortilleria does a small menu of Mexico City street food - the crowd favourite is tacos al Pastor. Free-range (Otway) pork is marinated in achiote, ancho and guajillo chillies and – wait for it – cola. Apparently it helps tenderise the meat. It’s threaded onto a vertical spit with a chunk of pineapple on top. The tortillas then get loaded with carved meat, a few pineapple tidbits, onion and coriander. It’s a mariachi band in your mouth.

Try the empanadas. The masa dough is shaped in crescents around a spicy mix of shredded chicken, chipotle chillies, thyme, oregano and cloves. They’re deep-fried to become heavenly little hot pockets.

La Tortilleria fills up nightly with a good quotient of the bearded and the bike-loving plus a lot of Mexican and El Salvador expats, be they big families or homesick students. The air is thick with Spanish chatter – both from the staff and a live radio broadcast from Mexico City. Come and join the party.

Updated on 23 Aug 2013.

By Lauren Wambach   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

La Tortilleria details

72 Stubbs St, Kensington 3031

Telephone 03 9376 55 77

Open Wed 6pm-late; Thu-Fri noon-2.30pm & 6pm-late; Sat-Sun 11.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-late

La Tortilleria website

Book now

La Tortilleria map

Report a problem with this page

Restaurants and bars nearby


572m - Warning: dining at Luncheonette may cause side effects such as a pressing...

The Premises

649m - This warm and bustling Kensington café is crammed inside and out most...

More restaurants and bars nearby

Other venues nearby

64 Sutton Street

214m - Built as the Commonwealth Food & Produce Stores Circa 1960’s, 64...

Ministry of Dance

214m - So You Think You Can Dance? judge Jason Coleman runs Ministry of Dance, a...


214m - Opening in late 2010, MKA quickly became one of the leading writing and...

Pavilion Live

301m - The old Melbourne Pavilion in Flemington is to undergo a major refit with...

More venues nearby
Petit Piknic

Petit Piknic

Melbourne's got the most fun, family-friendly Sunday session at Piknic Electronik

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

Get the Time Out weekend planner. Straight to your inbox, every Thursday.
Read more