I went a little slap happy this past weekend. The family and I went to Buford Highway for Indonesian food at the charming Tempo Doeloe (5090 Buford Hwy NW, Doraville), and then we stopped in at Supermercado Chicago (5263) to see if they had fresh masa for sale (I didn't find any). I came out with two kinds of preservative-free corn tortillas, and later picked up a few more varieties for a long-overdue taste test.
Homemade is always better, of course, but I'm supposed to be serving tacos to a crowd (I hope it's one anyway) in a couple weeks and I am kind of losing sleep about how to get everything done, and do it without cooking or warming anything on site. Purchasing the tortillas will just make my life a bit easier.
Here's the lineup, left to right: Olé (with preservatives; made in Norcross, GA, by La Banderita), El Milagro (no preservatives; Doraville, GA), La Banderita (no preservatives; made in Norcross).
Again left to right: La Banderita mini taco size (with preservatives; Norcross), Guerrero (with preservatives; Irving, TX).
I warmed all of them one by one in a hot cast-iron skillet just until they started to brown. (Later I tried out various steaming methods and confirmed what I already knew: I don't care for steam-warmed tortillas.) For this comparison I ignored factors like price (they were comparable, as I remember) and availability.
The two that did not have preservatives, El Milagro (the brand I observed more Latinas picking up than any of the others, in two different supermercados) and La Banderita, were coarse-textured, heavy, thick, and had a pretty unpleasant metallic aftertaste. They didn't seem "fresher" to me. With the exception of the Guerrero, the texture of the ones with preservatives was finer and more tender, and perhaps those would not stand up as well to damp fillings—or to time.
The best tasting of all of them, and the one with the nicest texture, was Guerrero: it had lots of masa flavor, it puffed beautifully on the griddle, and was light without being flimsy. Oddly, it was the most rubbery straight out of the package, and I didn't have high hopes for it, but the griddle fixed everything.
La Banderita's mini taco–sized tortilla was probably my second favorite. It also puffed and browned nicely; its flavor was a bit bland compared to the Guerrero and the two no-preservatives brands but not as . . . challenging as the latter.
Conclusion: For personal use, if I'm not making them myself I'll try to make an effort to get Guerrero tortillas (the store on Prince in Athens has them). For the event in a couple weeks I'm going to use the mini tortillas—the size is right for a two- or three-bite sample-type serving, eaten standing up and maybe with a glass in one hand, and the texture and flavor are not bad.
And yes, I had my hamburger off the grill yesterday in a tortilla, with pico de gallo. And I toasted our nation of immigrants.