KCRW & Gustavo’s Great Tortilla Tournament of Champions (with Good Food’s Evan Kleiman)

Masa Madness

We’re back for another year of KCRW & Gustavo's Great Tortilla Tournament! But this year, it is the Tournament of Champions. What does that mean? Well, every tortilla maker participating in this year’s tournament has won at least one tournament round in past years, so it’s a fiery battle between the best of the best.

And more good news, we’re hosting it for the very first time at Smorgasburg LA! That’s right - we’re having a party within a party. In case you’re unfamiliar, Smorgasburg LA is the city’s largest weekly outdoor food market, featuring finely curated 90+ food, beverage, and shopping vendors.


SoCal muckraker and author of Taco USA, Gustavo Arellano, and KCRW’s Good Food host Evan Kleiman will lead us through this exciting, momentous day. Get ready for DJs sets with KCRW’s very own Raul Campos and Jose Galvan, scavenger hunts, an Ask a Tortilla Expert table, and of course, live tournament rounds between the Fuerte Four tortillas in Southern California to determine who walks away with the golden tortilla.

RSVP for event info & up-to-date Covid-safety guidelines

Who are the FUERTE FOUR? Put your hands together for Burritos La Palma (flour), Anchos Southwest Grill and Bar (flour), Taco María (corn), and Tallula’s (corn). Gustavo and Evan will be joined by judges Mona Holmes (Eater LA) and Connie Alvarez (KCRW) to determine the question that plagues us all: Where can I find the best tortilla in Southern California?

Gustavo and team recommend visiting the sites before the event to purchase a taste of those tortillas –– sorry, due to the recent pandemic tough times, we could not ask vendors to accommodate free samples for all. However, tortilla samples will be available at the event for KCRW members only.*

Schedule

-10a Smorgasburg opens! KCRW DJ Raul Campos Spins

-12p Tortilla Tournament Round One

-1p Tournament Round Two, KCRW DJ Jose Galvan Spins

-2p Tournament Round Three: Golden Tortilla Presented & the Crowd (you) Goes WILD!!

-4p Smorgasburg Closes

KCRW Member Perks

The first 200 KCRW members to visit the street team table will receive a tortilla-tasting pass to try a sample of each of the top four tortillas.* 

Members can also enjoy these discounts all day!

Picnic Sandwich 20% off your order
Madame Shugah 10% off your order
Los Dorados ` $2 off an order of flautas
Leid Cookies $1 off
Cena Vegan $1 off burritos and taco trios
Little Llama $1 off a Two Taco Combo of Pomegranate Glazed Pork Belly and Papa a la Huancaina Tacos
Mort & Betty's $2 off order of Corned Beet Reuben Tacos       
Be Bright Coffee 10% off your order

MEET THE JUDGES

Gustavo Arellano, LA Times columnist and KCRW contributor

For corn tortillas, it's all about the flavor. Can't have a bitter aftertaste, because that means the maker added preservatives or cut beautiful masa with vile Maseca (dehydrated corn flour made by GRUMA, the Thanos of the tortilla world). A great corn tortilla must taste of, well, corn: a slight funkiness, a glorious comfort that is redolent of your mami's comal. I prefer them thick (gorditas — little fatties), but you'd be surprised at what thinness can bring to the game.

Evan Kleiman, Host of KCRW’s Good Food

When it comes to flour tortillas I want them to have a good balanced flavor, neither bland nor too salty. They shouldn’t taste rancid or sour. If there is a pleasing nutty sweetness from the flour all the better. I like a good puff with a flaky texture with no pastyness when you chew and they should be pliable and strong enough to fill and roll without being tough.

Mona Holmes, reporter for Eater Los Angeles

The first thing I notice about a tortilla is the smell. If there's one whiff of a factory's mass manufacturing odor, I'm already moving onto the next brand. The best ones are balanced with the right amount of salt, are slightly nutty, flaky, and have a good bite. The best tortillas can be heated up on a stovetop flame, flipped by hand, and be able to stand on its own.

Connie Alvarez, KCRW Communications Director

In a corn tortilla, I'm looking for flavor and pliability. Does it complement my food with corny goodness or help defuse a spicy bomb of a meal to acceptable levels? And can I tear it, roll it, and do the ol' pinch and scoop with it? That's a key criteria because when a tortilla is present, I forego utensils –– I'm just an animal, baybee!

Tortilla Bracket

Corn

KCRW & Gustavo's Great Tortilla Tournament with Good Food’s Evan Kleiman

Flour

1st Round
1 Taco Maria
16 Tortilleria Mexico
8 Taqueria Tortilla Factory
9 La Tolteca
5 Nuño Brothers
12 La Jolla
4 Mitla Café
13 El Campeon
6 Acapulco Tortilleria
11 Del Bajio
3 Carnitas El Rey
14 Tortilleria Flor de Mayo
7 Tortilleria Playa Azul
10 La Favorita
2 La Talpense
15 Trader Joe's
2nd Round
Taco Maria
La Tolteca
Nuño Brothers
Mitla Cafe
Acapulco Tortilleria
Carnitas El Rey
Tortilleria Playa Azul
Trader Joes
3rd Round
Taco Maria
Mitla Cafe
Carnitas El Rey
Trader Joe's
4th Round
Taco Maria
Trader Joe's
5th Round
Taco Maria
5th Round
Ancho's
4th Round
HomeState
Ancho's
3rd Round
HomeState
Salazar
Ancho's
El Ruso
2nd Round
HomeState
Casablanca
Salazar
La Fortaleza
Ancho's
San Gabriel Market
El Ruso
Jimenez Ranch Market
1st Round
1 HomeState
16 Sol Gonzalez
8 Casablanca
9 Loqui
5 Salazar
12 Diana's
4 Mexicali Taco
13 La Fortaleza
6 Ancho's
11 Juanita's
3 La Azteca
14 San Gabriel
7 El Ruso
10 Sonoritas
2 Jimenez Ranch Market
15 Northgate
1 Kernel of Truth
16 La Venadita
8 La Mazorca
9 Tallula's
5 Lenchita's
12 Amapola Market
4 Miramar Tortilleria
13 Ruben's Tortilleria
6 La Corona
11 La Gloria Mexican Foods
3 La Princesita
14 La California
7 La Fiesta
10 Los Cinco Puntos
2 Guisados
15 La Rancherita (Santa Ana)
Kernal of Truth
Tallula's
Amapola Deli
Rubén's Tortilleria
La Gloria Mexican Foods
La Princesita
La Fiesta
La Rancherita (Santa Ana)
Tallula's
Amapola Deli
La Princesita
La Rancherita
Tallula's
La Princesita
Tallula's
Burritos La Palma
Sonoratown
Burritos La Palma
Sonoratown
Bar Ama
Graciana's
Burritos La Palma
Sonoratown
Paco's Tacos
Bar Ama
El Cholo
Graciana's
Acapulco Tortilleria
Carrillo's
Burritos La Palma
1 Sonoratown
16 Fonda Moderna
8 La Chapalita
9 Paco's Tacos
5 Bar Ama
12 Arriola's
4 El Cholo
13 Romeros
6 Tallula's
11 Graciana's
3 La Monarca
14 Acapulco Tortilleria
7 La Cuatro Milpas
10 Carrillos
2 Burritos La Palma
15 Northgate Estilo Sonora
Winner: Burritos La Palma tortilla-halves.png

About Smorgasburg: Smorgasburg LA is the city’s largest weekly outdoor food market, featuring 90+ food, beverage and shopping vendors curated from the next wave of its culinary scene and the best local makers, designers, and vintage collectors. Open every Sunday from 10am to 4pm at ROW DTLA, Smorgasburg L.A. combines food, shopping, a family friendly beer garden and more to create a perfect day with friends, family, or colleagues.

This event is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs