It had been quite sometime since I'd spent a night in Springfield, MO. I have a new dealer there and I had planned a morning meeting with the sales staff. Getting in town the evening before, I wanted to try something new. Mexican sounded good and even though I had eaten at Maria's a few times before, I felt the last couple times I'd been there that they'd lost their edge. (Click here to see my review on Maria's from 2007.) Asking about other Mexican restaurants with the night clerk at the front desk of the Hampton Inn South in Springfield, he told me of a place that he thought was the best Mexican in the area - Tortilleria Perches. He gave me the address and this said, "You better hurry. They close at 8 p.m." It was 7:30 when he told me this. I took off soon thereafter to find the place.
It turns out that Tortilleria Perches has been in business since 2005 starting out in a small space in a strip mall on the west side of Springfield. Jesus Perches and his mother, Maria, had a small catering business that was getting rave reviews for their food. The Perches found a small location near the corner of W. Sunshine and the Kansas Expressway (see map) and opened for business with only four seats in the place.
Over the years, the Perches expanded the business, both in size and scope. They eventually took over a spot beside them and began to sell Mexican groceries. They procured a tortilla making machine from Reynosa, Mexico and began to supply fresh made tortillas and tortilla chips to other Mexican restaurants in the area. The eventually put in a bar and began serving beer and wine.
It was about a 10 minute drive from the hotel to Tortilleria Perches. Actually, I pulled into a parking lot looking for the business, but I couldn't find it. I looked at the GPS and thought that it had taken me to the wrong place. I doubled back and out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign that said, "Tortilleria" on the strip mall that was facing west and not south.
The place is not very large, and even though it was 15 minutes before closing there were a number of people in the place. The restaurant looked like it was cut into three separate areas. Each little area seemed to have shelves with Mexican items as diverse as candy, candles and hot sauces intermixed among the tables for the restaurant. It was well-lit, yet cozy.
The large tortilla making machine was the centerpiece of the open kitchen in the main part of the restaurant. I guess I've never seen a tortilla making machine like this. I was told that the machine was purchased used in Mexico with parts of the machine sent piece by piece to Springfield. It can make hundreds of tortillas in the course of a couple three hours.
I took a seat at a table in the main part of the restaurant and was given a menu by a gentleman rushing around the place. He asked me if I wanted anything to drink and I asked if they had Sol beer. "Sol," he replied quizzically. "Sol! Sure, we have Sol." (For some reason, I get a lot of similar quizzical replies in Mexican restaurants when I order a Sol. I'm sure I'm pronouncing it correctly - as in "soul". But I think that it catches the servers off guard because everyone else orders Corona or Dos Equis.)
The Perches had pretty much about everything that you'd expect a Mexican restaurant to have - enchiladas, tamales, burritos, combination plates, and specialty plates. The thing that jumped out at me were the number of choices of meat that you could order. They had five different types of beef to choose from - shredded, ground, steak, beef tongue and beef cheek - as well as pulled pork carnitas and chicken. They also have a number of breakfast items on the menu.
I decided to try a number of things ala carte. When my server came back with my beer, he asked if I was ready to order. I ordered a pork enchilada with the chili verde (green) sauce. I also got a shredded beef taco and he wanted to know if I wanted it Mexican-style. I didn't exactly know what Mexican-style really was, but I agreed on that. And since they're kind of famous for their tamales at Tortilleria Perches, I had to get one of those. I had my choice of either a chicken or pork tamale and I took the pork.
It wasn't long at all until my food came to the table. Even though it was butting up to closing time I didn't feel rushed to finish my meal and get the hell out. In fact, there were people still coming in around 8 p.m. getting orders to go. It appeared to be a popular place.
And I soon found out why - the food was out of sight! The shredded beef taco was topped with chopped onions, cilantro and chopped jalapenos. A side of chili verde sauce came on the side with the food and I gladly poured some on the taco. The meat had a lot of flavor, but the spices didn't overpower the overall taste of the meat. It wasn't large and I probably could have had two tacos.
The shredded pork enchilada was outstanding. It was covered in Chihuahua cheese and a healthy drizzle of the chili verde sauce. The combinations of the subtly seasoned pork along with the cheese and chili verde made it a winner. It, too, wasn't all that large and I suddenly wished I had another one.
It's tough to make a good tamale. Too many times I run into ones that are sort of lifeless and bland with the masa de maiz (corn dough) being a little overpowering versus the filling. But the ones at Tortilleria Perches were a perfect blend of flavors. After unrolling the corn husk, I found the tamale to be generously filled with the shredded carnitas. Some tamales can be too doughy, but the one I had at Tortilleria Perches didn't sit in my mouth like a hunk of dough on my tongue. It, too, was so good I wish I would have had another.
The great thing about it - the price was tremendously reasonable. For the three ala carte items and an imported beer, the bill came to just about $9 bucks! And I was full enough at the end of the meal. (Although, like I say, I wouldn't have minded either another taco or enchilada.) With a tip for the server, the bill was under $12 bucks.
As I paid my bill at the front counter, I got to talking with Jesus Perches. I normally don't identify myself as a restaurant or food blogger, but I had to tell Jesus that the food - and the value - was just excellent and I would write as much when I had the chance. He was deeply thrilled and appreciative as we were talking. "We've worked hard to get the place to where it is today," he told me. "We're presently expanding even more, expanding our kitchen and our bar. Things are really going well."
Tortilleria Perches was one of the best finds that I've come across in my travels. Springfield has always been one of my favorite places to travel to and I'll look forward to going back to try more food at Tortilleria Perches.