Made in Savannah: Mitla Tortillas

EAT IT AND LIKE IT | Presented weekly by SAVANNAH TECHNICAL COLLEGE

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not afraid to share because if you love keeping tabs on the goings-on food wise in Savannah there is one central location that more times than not is the best place to do it. The Forsyth Park Farmers Market. 

For every tip we get on a new big fancy restaurant coming to Savannah (and there remain a lot of them out there), I have becoming increasingly fascinated by what the market has to offer. Once upon a moon it was just a nice place to grab some produce, but it has evolved beautifully. From coffee, to fresh hummus or fresh fish or even a locally made popsicle on a muggy Saturday morning, FFM has become a real treasure for locally sourced eats. Including the one I want to share with you today.

I first stumbled across Mitla Tortillas easily 3 or 4 years ago at the market. Organic flour and corn tortillas, pre-packaged of course and sold every Saturday morning at the park. When I asked my requisite flurry of questions, I found out that a number of Savannah restaurants were using the tortillas, but headquarters was in Charleston. 

Fair enough. They went on our list. If you follow our adventures on our Saturday afternoon television show, then you know we have frequently traveled to Charleston for good eats and/or fun stories. This was one we were going to keep an eye on during our next visit to Chucktown.

Funny thing happened during 2020 on a routine visit to the market. First, I didn’t see them on a routine visit to the market. I wondered if they’d been able to survive. After my next visit we asked if they were gone. “Nope. They were here last week. They’ve moved here to Savannah.”

How about them apples?

A month or so later, we were in their production facility on Louisville Road watching hundreds, if not thousands, of corn tortillas being ground, cut and cooked for distribution. The process actually is fascinating. The results are the cleanest tasting tortillas you will find in the area. They are vegan, gluten free and delicious.

It turns out Mitla is not only alive and well, but thriving. You can find them in 3 area Whole Foods stores with plans for more down the road. The move to Savannah apparently had been in the works for a while, made easier by business and family.

“Actually, my dad is from here.” Says Grace Newland, who along with her husband Cliff started making tortillas after a visit to Mexico. “We were looking for a change. We did a lot of business here, so we started looking.”

The move wasn’t purely emotional. They considered the potential growth of the company. If they wanted to grown liked they had hoped, Savannah offered a geographic advantage with 2 interstates nearby and a 2 hour drive to the Florida border, there were advantages. It all made sense. By November 2019 they were here full time.

They also took into account that there weren’t any mass producers of certified organic tortillas in this area. You could find a couple in Atlanta, sure, but down this way you were out of luck in that department unless you really knew where to look around town on both sides of the Savannah River. 

Grace tells me they regularly get calls from new chefs who arrive in town looking for a solid product. “We make our bread and butter on restaurants.” 

That’s why you see thousands of tortillas being made here every day and every week. The average consumer Grace says is obessesed as well.

“Obsessed is a good word to describe it. Some people have called it life changing. Clean tortillas without all of the fillers.” She says.

“We have had people say they didn’t like corn tortillas until they had ours.”

Same goes for the folks at Whole Foods. They’ve asked them to create enough supply for a few dozen stores already, but they aren’t really set up for that right now. They could probably make enough tortillas, but the product requires refridgerated transport. That’a a lot of logistics to bring together on the fly. So they are taking it slow.

“Right now we are building our audience at Whole Foods. We’d be interested in expansion at some point.” 

There’s no rush. Slow and steady wins the race, especially coming out of a year like 2020. Mitla tortillas are not only not going anywhere, but you can find them on occasion at the Forsyth Farmers Market as well as at….you guessed it. The Whole Food store on Victory Drive as well as on Hilton Head Island.

Every last one of them made a stones throw from the heart of Savannah. Eat ‘em and like em.

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About The Author

Jesse Blanco

One of the most recognizable personalities in the Savannah/Hilton Head Island television market, Jesse Blanco is sometimes called "Savannah's Anthony Bourdain." His 'Eat It and Like It' show has become a major regional brand in the foodie world.
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