Get `em while they’re hot: Pico Rivera restaurant cooks up homemade tortillas for all to eat, and see

Tortilla-maker Elvira Torres makes home-made flour and corn torillas for customers at the Zapien's Salsa Grill on Sept. 23, 2010. Zapien's Salsa Grill adds homemade tortillas to its menu, where customers can see tortillas being made live on Friday evenings, and all day Saturdays and Sundays.

By  | smolina@scng.com | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

PICO RIVERA – One of the city’s most popular Mexican restaurants, Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria, is adding a new item to its menu: handmade flour tortillas.

The past year, patrons to Salsa Grill, 6702 Rosemead Blvd., have devoured the handmade corn tortillas.

Now, in response to customer requests, owner and chef Marco Zapien has given them what they want.

The authentic Mexican restaurant, which has been named twice the “Best Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles” in a local viewer-voting contest, offers handmade corn and flour tortillas Friday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday.

“We have made the corn tortillas the past year in the kitchen,” Zapien said. “But we wanted the consumers to experience the cooking process, so we have moved it out to the dining area for the weekend.”

Tortillas are prepared on the restaurant floor Friday evenings and all day Saturday for customers to see.

The preparation moves to the kitchen on Sundays when space is needed to accommodate the rush of customers coming in for brunch and dinner.

Two trained tortilla makers prepare the masa (tortilla dough) following the Salsa Grill’s family recipe.

Elvira Torres and Maria Ambriz, both of Pico Rivera, then roll and press the masa to the perfect size.

Each tortilla is placed on a large comal (hot plate), where the tortilla is warmed to perfection and is ready to serve.

“I love the happy faces of the people as I make the tortillas,” Torres said. “They really look forward to eating them.”

Having the tortillas cooked in the restaurant began as part of Salsa Grill’s Carnitas Feast Weekends – an all-you-can eat special offered on from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The special includes tender carnitas, fresh salsa, beans and handmade corn tortillas for $12 per person.

“It’s been very popular,” Zapien said. “People love making their own tacos.”

“I love how the fresh tortillas taste,” said Charity Galindo, of Huntington Beach. “My mom and I ate some last night, and the tortillas and carnitas together are great.”

For information visit www.thesalsagrill.com or call 562-942-7072.

sandra.molina@sgvn.com

562-698-0955, ext. 3029