If you’ve been to Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar in Southie recently, and if you were surprised, given how packed it was, at the speed of the service, you’re not alone. If you pictured some kind of Dickensenian mini-factory beneath a trap door behind the bar, affably churning out tortillas, you’re also not alone. Though you might be a little off.
Fact is, Loco has a new tortilla machine, and it does the work of a team of factory workers in half the time. Plus it has no desire to unionize.
“We were actively looking for an appropriate machine for a couple of months,” says Loco Executive Chef Matt Drummond. “We had to play kitchen-line-puzzle to figure out what fit and what didn’t in our kitchen.”
The goal of this game of culinary Tetris, Drummond says, was to source tortillas directly from the Loco kitchen for the freshest tacos possible. Loco is one of the most patronized restaurants in Southie—the desire to bring customers high-quality ingredients at the highest possible speeds isn’t a new concept. The machine’s ability to facilitate that process is.
“We make anywhere from 400-1300 tortillas per day depending on the day [and] what we have going on,” Drummond says.
That’s a pace that would make Trump’s tiny Twitter fingers blush. And look more like, well, 1930s F. Scott Fitzgerald wasting-away-at-the-typewriter fingers.
The dough—made up of masa harina, water and salt—is made in-house each day. It’s then pressed into a roller, through a dye cutter and comes out on a conveyor belt. The plancha cook grills one side, turns the tortilla over, then cooks the other. Which is an apt metaphor.
The gauntlet has been thrown down. The tortilla game has been irreversibly flipped.