Yoli Tortilleria Brings Fresh Sonoran Tortillas to the Westside
As a child in Ciudad Obregon in Sonora, Mexico, Marissa Gencarelli grew up visiting neighborhood tortillerias. At those tortillerias, owners would toss freshly pressed tortillas on the griddle, toasting each side and handing them to customers to snack on as they bought their items and caught up on the day. Those memories and flavors are vivid, and serve as the primary inspiration for Yoli Tortilleria’s first brick-and-mortar shop, which opened this Wednesday at 17th and Jefferson in the Westside.
Gencarelli and her husband, Mark, are familiar faces to anyone who regularly visits the Overland Park Farmer’s Market. There the couple, along with their children, have sold Yoli’s stone-ground tortillas and tamales for several years. Yet it wasn’t until last year that the two seriously explored making Sonoran-style flour tortillas. In large part it was for practical reasons – they knew that they would have to open a new facility, as their corn tortillas are certified gluten-free, and to maintain that status no wheat products can be in that facility. Yet the drive to reconnect with the memories of those tortillerias in Mexico, as well as offer their customers a new option, led them to pursue their next goal.
The Gencarellis traveled to Marissa’s Sonora home to visit a number of tortillerias to learn from traditional makers about production and ingredients: flour, pork lard, water, and salt. When the couple returned home, they tested 30 different types of flour to find the one that imparted authentic flavor and texture. They settled on a wheat flour from a Kansas mill, and white flour from a mill in the Upper Midwest.
Then there’s the fat component. The Gencarellis didn’t have to look far to find some of the best pork leaf lard in the country – Paradise Locker in Trimble, Missouri, a facility famous for supplying some of the country’s finest restaurants. For a vegan option, Yoli utilizes high-quality avocado oil. The pork fat and vegan options are nearly indistinguishable.
Yoli Tortilleria’s new storefront functions as a production facility at which employees press and cook tortillas all day long. While guests snack on their own freshly-griddled tortillas, they can shop Yoli’s varieties of flour tortillas, which include those made with pork fat (actually high-quality leaf lard from Paradise Locker in Trimble, MO), as well as a vegan option made with avocado oil. The tortillas are available in three sizes—taco size, quesi size (referring to quesadilla, about 6″), and a 14″ big burrito size. Yoli’s stone-ground corn tortillas, in white, blue, and red corn varieties are also available, as are special weekly flavors such as chive and onion or chipotle. White and blue corn masa is also available, as are fresh salsa, pickled elotes, and Topo Chico sparkling water.
Yoli Tortilleria is located at 1668 Jefferson Street, and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.