It's a Wrap: Where to buy locally-made tortillas

Thanks to a new storefront, now you can buy locally-made Sinaloa tortillas, even fresher.
La Tiendita, Sinaloa Tortilla Factory's new storefront.

Photos: Martha Cheng

If you’ve ever had a burrito night at your house, you’ve probably bought a package of Sinaloa tortillas.

Sinaloa, which runs a factory located near the Honolulu International Airport, supplies 85 percent of Hawaii’s Mexican restaurants and is available in almost every major grocery store in the Islands. It’s been cranking out tortillas in Hawaii for almost 20 years, and now you can get them even fresher, thanks to a new storefront next to the factory.

The flour tortilla press. One machine portions out the dough, another proofs the dough balls (lets the dough rest and relax), and then dumps them out on this conveyor belt to be pressed.
The tortillas, on a conveyor belt, never stop moving. Here, they're emerging from the oven, where they go straight into a chill box and then are spit out on the other side and into a machine that counts and stacks tortillas.

Cuauhtemoc Macias, one of the second generation running the operation (His three brothers are also named after thorns in the side of conquistador Hernán Cortés, and Aztec gods), says the Sinaloa tortillas sold at local supermarkets can be up to a week old. At the new Sinaloa store, La Tiendita, they’ll be fresh off the tortilla press and less than a day old. (You can check the “made on” dates on the backs of the packages, at the top.)

Sinaloa first began as a restaurant in 1989 in Hanapepe, Kauai. When the Macias family applied for the restaurant’s liquor license, a neighbor rounded up 150 signatures in protest, afraid that Mexicans would bring crime and drugs to the neighborhood. The restaurant eventually got its liquor license with the help of a political friend who vouched for the Macias. Eight months later, Hurricane Iniki hit and the restaurant was the only place around to get cold beer, ice and hot food.

It became a social hub, and eventually, a very small-scale tortilla factory serving Kauai. In 1993, The Macias closed the restaurant and started the Oahu tortilla factory, but restaurants are still in their blood; the family is hoping to serve breakfast and lunch sometime down the line.

For now, La Tiendita offers a small selection of Mexican and Latin groceries (chorizo, cotija cheese, Jarritos), but the main draw is the corn tortillas (available in 4- and 5-inch rounds) and flour tortillas (in 6-, 8-, and 10-inch rounds) as well as whole wheat, taro and chili tomato tortillas.

Sinaloa tortilla factory and La Tiendita, 3239 Koapaka St., 833-6768