Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Tortilleria El Patrón is Columbia, Missouri’s First Fresh Tortilla Shop

Tortilleria El Patrón is Columbia, Missouri’s First Fresh Tortilla Shop

Last spring, Carmen and Jose Morales began sharing a taste of their home cooking at Tortilleria El Patrón, Columbia, Missouri’s first fresh tortilla shop. They roll out hundreds of scratch-made flour and corn tortillas per day and serve up traditional Mexican food for carryout. The Morales family moved to Columbia from Juarez, Mexico, nearly 20 years ago, and the flavors of Juarez seep into everything cooked in El Patrón’s kitchen.

The menu is a medley of authentic Latin cuisine including cow-tongue tacos, menudo, gorditas and tamales. In 2018, the family expects to grow even more as the business adds a new commercial kitchen next door. Stock up on tortillas or try them at Columbia restaurants including Root Cellar, Boss Taco, Just Jeff’s and Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen.

Why did you want to open a tortilleria in Columbia? The plan was just to make just a few tortillas to try them out, just to see how it would work. We basically went and bought a flour tortilla machine; then all of a sudden, word started spreading, people started liking them, and we thought, “Well, maybe this is it – maybe this is what we should be doing.” Once we started working on the flour tortillas, people started asking about the corn tortillas. We didn’t know anything about corn tortillas except how to eat ‘em, so we went and bought the corn tortilla machine and took a two-hour course with the owner of a tortilla shop in Mexico. –Jose Morales

Tell us about your menu. We make more traditional Mexican food, something that you wouldn’t find anywhere else [nearby]. Just about any restaurant here makes fajitas or chimichangas, but whenever it comes to a menudo, flautas – also called taquitos – and corn gorditas, you can find those here. It’s definitely something Columbia hasn’t tried yet. –J.M.

Where do your recipes come from? The flour tortilla recipe comes from my mother-in-law and my mom. It’s a family recipe. –Carmen Morales

As far as the corn tortilla, it’s just corn flour and water, and that’s it. We try to keep it all natural: no preservatives or anything like that. –J.M.

What else makes your tortillas so special? You can definitely taste the difference between fresh tortillas and others. We may not have the shelf life of other companies, where you can let them sit for two or three months, but then again, a lot of those tortillas sit in a warehouse for two to three weeks before they ship them out. We don’t do that: Our tortillas are made fresh daily. –J.M.

Tortilleria El Patrón, 711H Vandiver Drive, Columbia, Missouri, 573.514.2029,


* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Jessica is a freelance writer based in Columbia, Missouri. She lives by the words of M.F.K. Fisher: "First we eat, then we do everything else."

Related to this story