Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana (Memphis)

This month has marked the culmination of revisited old favorites in town. Perhaps it's the recent wave of new Memphis transplants who have yet to experience restaurants I had simply taken for granted. I've played the "concierge" hat this weekend, especially, introducing new friends South Main Trolley Night, impeccable seafood and a warm, familiar crowd at Tsunami, and a healthy quick fix at LYFE Kitchen. Yesterday's lunch at Las Tortugas acquainted a whirlwind of nostalgia and joy--It had somehow been about a year since I was able to enjoy the frescas and tortas and tacos and salsas. The original spot on Germantown Parkway (though a second location is in the works!) boasts no fanciness in decor or set-up, but instead a warm, wonderful greeting by owner Jonathan Magallanes at the cash register.

Having brought a new Memphian to try the restaurant for the first time, Jonathan whisked us into a tale of the Las Tortugas process and proper recommendations. Becci and I decided (with Jonathan's blessing) to split a few must-haves: tacos, tortas and mexican street corn. Jonathan was kind enough to give Becci a guacamole sampler to accompany our meal since we did not order the full chips and guac item--arguably the best chips and guac in town.


I am routinely drawn to the flaky fish tacos with avocado, lime and cilantro. We noticed, however, a Claybrook Farms brisket taco special in green Expo market on the register's accompanying white board. Great choice. Flaky brisket from a farm only miles away worked beautifully with the avocado, and an extra smoky barbecue-inspired sauce added a tasteful kick.

Becci and I also split the smoked chicken torta, which beats any typical sandwich and pleases our carb-mindful friends. The bread is hollowed out and grilled to mimic a crispy, almost tortilla-chip-like texture. Loaded with chicken, farmer's cheese, tomato and avocado, this Mexican take on a sub is a classic go-to at the restaurant.


And, of course, we savored the extra buttery, cojita-crumbled Mexican street corn with a squeeze of lime and sprinkle of spice. In my opinion, a trip to Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana is incomplete without the street corn side. No one masters it better in Memphis.

Here's to revisiting the old but good ones; the restaurants whose consistency and quality and passion once created and now sustain Memphis' culinary merit.