Shop Local 2023: A Pilsen, Little Village And Back Of The Yards Holiday Gift Guide

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By Madison Savedra November 15, 2023 – Updated December 5, 2023

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Tortilleria Sabinas, 1509 W. 18th St. Website. For the foodie in your life, consider treating them with the beloved house-made chips and tortillas from Tortilleria Sabinas. The family-run business opened in September after having to close for several years due to health issues of the former owner and the pandemic. A bag of their traditional chips is $3.25, while their spicy chips are $3.35. A 9-ounce packet of yellow corn tortillas is 55 cents. Or, if you have loved ones who make homemade tamales around the holidays, Sabinas also sells their raw masa for $8.50 for a 5-pound portion. Sabinas is open 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Their products can also be found at select grocery stores around the city.

From Block Club Chicago: Pilsen’s Tortilleria Sabinas Reopens After Almost 5 Years — And Locals Are Thrilled

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By Madison Savedra Updated October 13, 2023

PILSEN — A family-run Pilsen tortilleria has reopened with a new generation leading the business. 

Tortilleria Sabinas, 1509 W. 18th St., opened last month after nearly five years of being closed, said plant manager Ernesto Aviña. The business closed in January 2019 due to the declining health of its former owner Antonio Aviña, Ernesto’s father. 

The family expected the closure to be temporary, but the pandemic and the death of Antonio Aviña in 2021 delayed the reopening until now. 

Ernesto Aviña said he, his brother Jose Aviña and longtime family friend Jaime Pedraza have been working over the past year to get the tortilleria running again. 

They reopened Tortilleria Sabinas Sept. 16, and the community’s response has been amazing, Ernesto Aviña said. 

“Every day we’re getting returning customers and new customers — just people from the neighborhood happy that we’re open again,” he said. “I’m just surprised at how many people have been coming.”

Ernesto Aviña said what sets Sabinas’ tortillas and other products apart from competitors is the lack of artificial preservatives. Their tortillas are made with corn, water and a natural preservative called calcium hydroxide, he said. 

The tortilleria’s recipe and tortilla-making method date back to when Antonio Aviña and his brother, Ernesto Aviña, bought Sabinas in 1977. Both had worked for their uncle’s tortilleria, El Popocatepetl, which they took over. The brothers decided to grow the businesses independently, with Ernesto Aviña at El Popo and Antonio Aviña at Sabinas.

The younger Ernesto Aviña said he and his three brothers have all worked at Sabinas at some point, but he’s worked there consistently since about 2002. 

After pursuing a law career in Boston, Ernesto Aviña said he decided to “jump ship” and come back home.

“My dad sort of said, ‘Hey, if you want to work in the family business, right now would be a good time for you to learn the ropes,” he said. 

Now, Ernesto Aviña’s 12-year-old son is showing interest in the family business, he said. 

With a new generation at the helm, what’s next for Tortilleria Sabinas?

“I want to keep our tradition, but I definitely want to expand,” Ernesto Aviña said. “I guess the key is to try to find out how to do one without losing the other. But definitely, I would love to continue the family recipe and get it out there.”

Sabinas is open 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. A 9-ounce packet of corn tortillas costs 55 cents, a small bag of chips costs $2.75 and a large bag costs $3.25. A pound of plain masa is 65 cents.

Sabinas products can also be found at select grocery stores around the city.

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