Tortilleria La Autentica

Food: Three stars

Service: Three stars

Ambience: Two stars

Price: $

Address: 510 E. Fouth St., Loveland

Contact: 970-663-9114

Hours:

6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

6 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday

Credit cards: Yes

Noise level: Given that the only seating was outside, it was moderate, as traffic was reasonably light outside and the neighbors were doing a good job of keeping things down.

A package of corn tortillas at Tortilleria La Autentica in downtown Loveland.
A package of corn tortillas at Tortilleria La Autentica in downtown Loveland. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Loveland's Tortilleria La Autentica sits east of downtown in a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood. With its location set back from the street, it's easy to miss on a first pass, but it's worth seeking out for its exceptionally inexpensive and unfussy fare.

Menu selections are straightforward and include egg-based breakfast burritos combined with such ingredients as potato or meats such as ham and sausage. Non-breakfast burritos are made up of a flour tortilla stuffed with rice and refried beans, as well as a variety of fillings, ranging from a meatless chile con queso with vegetables to a steak ranchero. Fillings, which also include red and green chile sauces, are also available to go by the half or full quart. There are also tacos loaded up with either ground or shredded beef as well as cheese enchiladas garnished with a red ranchero sauce.


Advertisement

Given that this spot is more of a store and tortilla manufacturer than a full-tilt restaurant, there's not much in the way of seating, save for a limited number metal tables and chairs outside. In colder weather, it's probably best to plan taking the tortilleria's food home to enjoy. That said, we did notice at least one individual enjoying their dinner while sitting in their car in the parking lot.

But most of the business was of the takeout variety, as demonstrated by a steady stream of vehicles coming and going during the dinner hour. Ordering at the counter is quick and efficient. Items are made to order, and while your meal is being prepared, you can grab a beverage out of one of the fridges full of soft drinks. Beverage choices include Mexican Coke, fruity if not over the top sugary Jarritos sodas, and mineral waters. There are also bags of freshly made tortillas to take home.

While my dining companion was initially disappointed that they were out of chicken mole, a $2.82 chicken chipotle burrito was a fine alternative. The chicken pieces were tender, flavorful and moist. A lip smacking sauce nicely straddled the balance between moderate, but not too heavy, creaminess and the smoky but mellow heat of chipotle.

While the burritos here aren't the massive San Francisco Mission-style specimens approximating the size of a small ocean liner, they're still of adequate size. For the price, it's no great stretch to buy two if you're extraordinarily hungry. While the options for add-ons like vegetables and other ingredients are limited compared to some burrito chains, there's something to be said for the simplicity of this spot's offerings.

I'd be hard pressed to find a worthy rival for the $5.63 enchilada plate with beans and rice. First off, a topping of vibrantly colorful ranchero sauce possessed a moderate tanginess with a pleasant undercurrent of red chile. This piquant condiment was a perfect foil to the comforting goodness of the hot and gooey cheese encased in soft tortillas. Accompanying the enchiladas were sides of refried beans and rice best described as exceptional. The beans were velvety smooth, enough so that one didn't want to think about the underlying fat content. Rice was fluffy, hot and fresh tasting without a hint of hardened dryness that vexes some versions.

There's also a limited selection of desserts priced at $2.82, but the only one remaining at the time of our visit was a slice of unadorned cheesecake. As basic as this treat was, it possessed the proper level of tang that I seek out in a cheesecake, as well as a properly large crumb graham cracker crust.

Last but not least, it didn't seem right to leave a tortilla factory without picking up a $2.35 package of the corn version of their signature product. The quality of the corn tortillas here are markedly superior to those one would buy in a grocery store. Each disc was fresh and soft and free of the dryness sometimes found in a supermarket versions. The tortillas are also more rough hewn, making for a rustic appearance that translates into a more compelling texture pleasing to both the eye and mouth. They also hold up well after a few days, and are enjoyable at home with nothing more than a smear of butter and a splash of hot sauce.

Although Tortilleria La Autentica is more store than restaurant, and seating options are extremely limited, it's a top spot for affordable and satisfying Mexican favorites. Staff are friendly and helpful, and it's a terrific alternative to chain eateries serving similar dishes.