Los Amigos Tortillas 3

A family business that stacks up.

Consider the tortilla chip. After all, most of us don’t — we just assume they’ll arrive on our table, basket after basket. The ubiquity of the tortilla almost makes it invisible, and most think of the filling of burritos, enchiladas, gorditas and the like as the star. But whether flour or corn, that tortilla’s got to come from somewhere.

That somewhere is right here in Buckhead.

Located in an Armour Drive industrial park just off I-85 that’s home also to SweetWater Brewing and Open Hand Atlanta, Los Amigos Tortilla Manufacturing, Inc. has been turning out top-quality tortillas for years. When it was founded in 1969, Los Amigos was one of the first tortilla manufacturing companies in the entire Southeast. Almost half a century on, there are now multiple tortillerias based just in metro Atlanta.

Look to the three flags on the packages of either Los Amigos’ corn or flour tortillas — a Mexican and a Guatemalan flag sit alongside the Stars & Stripes. The company was founded by the parents of Ruben Rodriguez, Jr., who currently runs the business. His father came from Mexico and his mother from Guatemala, and the company’s wholly American. The 38,000-square-foot facility can turn out 6,400 dozen tortillas per hour, around the clock. That’s literally millions of tortillas made within the space of a few days.

The process is remarkably simple, relying on traditional processes Rodriguez’s parents established at the company’s beginnings. Whole-kernel Kentucky corn is steam-cooked and soaked, then ground into masa dough with water and lime (food-grade calcium hydroxide, not the citrus fruit). The factory’s grinding mechanisms are made from volcanic stone that pulverize the cooked corn, handling up to 1,000 lbs of corn per hour.

Los Amigos, which engages with the community by offering school tours, among other initiatives, splits its facility into flour and corn production. The softer, puffier flour tortillas are proofed, pressed and baked on one side while the corn tortillas — a naturally gluten-free product — are created on the other, then either bagged whole or cut into quarters for use as tortilla chips.

Restaurants and retailers eager for these local products can get their hands on Los Amigos tortillas through food distributors like U.S. Food and Sysco, but they’re also available to Atlanta shoppers at the Acapulco Supermarket… or just sit down for a meal at spots like Bone Garden, No Más Cantina, Twisted Taco or El Taco Veloz, among others. Not only will you be dining on delicious Mexican food, you’ll also be tasting a part of Atlanta small-business history.