Tortilleria San Ramon: An Inside Look

Tortilleria San Ramon is an unassuming place. Located at 951 South 9th Street in the Italian Market, the tortilla specialty shop boasts a small menu with deep roots, providing authentic Mexican food to Philly residents. San Ramon’s secret lies in its simplicity and the care it takes in crafting tortillas, chips, and salsas.

Even before you enter the store, you can hear San Ramon’s ancient tortilla machine clanking as it presses and cooks balls of masa into fresh corn tortillas. Walking into the store for the first time, your eyes are instantly drawn to the hunk of masa centered on the tortilla machine. In seconds, the machine takes the masa, presses it, cooks it, and spits it out as fresh tortillas, ready to be weighed, packaged, and served, steamy and warm, to customers.

Tortilleria San Ramon opened in 2009. Speaking in spanish with the owner, Francisco Rivera, I learned that the store was originally opened to better serve the Spanish community. Originally working in construction, Francisco wanted to deliver an authentic product that connected with his culture. Through traditional techniques and ingredients, Francisco managed to do just that while capturing a wider audience with his fresh tortillas.

The tortillas are made from a mixture of harina maiz (corn flour) and water. The simplicity of the recipe translates to a clean corn taste. The tortillas are light with a good chewy texture, and are best eaten warm. I can imagine putting ropa viejo and salsa inside one of San Ramon’s tortillas for a perfect taco. Or stuffing them with chicken and smothering them with mole sauce and queso fresco for enchiladas. Or running them, warmed, through a runny fried egg’s yolk for a simple, hearty breakfast.
While I did not get the chance to try any of San Ramon’s sauces, chips, or cactus salad, judging by the number of customers who snagged some chips and salsa while I was in the store, they are sure to please. My one word of caution is that cactus salad tends to be spicy, so make sure you prepare yourself when ordering it. That being said, it is sure to be a great complement to any dish you make with the tortillas or on the side with San Ramon’s chips and salsa.
With a small menu, honest food, and dedicated owner, Tortilleria San Ramon is a great find for fresh, authentic Mexican food. It is one of those places that inspires you to take their tortillas and do something great with them.

-Ben Blanco