PHARR — A local saleswoman might see her tortillas on H-E-B shelves after becoming a finalist in the company’s competitive search for great Texas-made products.
Gloria Navarro, owner of Tortilleria La Regia in Pharr, is the only person from the Rio Grande Valley advancing to the final round of judging in the fourth annual H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best competition.
Navarro began her business last year, selling precooked and raw flour tortillas, which range in size from 4 to 13 inches. Restaurants, taquerias and stores across the Valley serve her product.
“We want our business to grow so we can give quality tortillas to the Valley,” Navarro said. “We are working to have fewer preservatives in our tortilla and are always looking to make them better.”
A previous grand-prize winner and a past finalist of the competition, both from the Valley, will join Navarro at a showcase for the Tortilleria La Regia from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at the H-E-B Plus in Pharr.
Between February and April of this year, judges looked at almost 600 applications from more than 200 locations as they searched for “the best of what Texas has to offer.” The submitted food products had to be produced, manufactured, grown or harvested substantially in Texas.
The entries were picked based on factors such as uniqueness, market potential, readiness for production, and suitability as a potential retail supplier.
Navarro and the other 25 finalists will be in Austin from Aug. 9-11 to convince judges why their product deserves to win, but only four will win a cash prize and the highest ranked can negotiate a sales contract.
Although Navarro is thrilled to have made it this far, one of those prizes would go a long way for Tortilleria La Regia. She wants to find a warehouse separate from their current location on South Canna Street in Pharr so she can double the size of production, and eventually expand to San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Laredo and other cities.
And while the future looks promising for her company, she has never forgotten her roots.
“This is a family business started 23 years ago in Mexico,” Navarro said. “But they still get new customers and that represents a lot about their tortillas. It’s a quality product over there.”
After growing up with that example, she was disappointed by the tortillas she encountered in the United States. She decided the only solution was to bring the recipe across the border.
“I wasn’t very satisfied with the flour tortillas they were serving in restaurants because they were very thick, they would get hard and they had a lot of flour seed,” Navarro said. “So that’s why we decided to have our own flour tortilla — to get something we would actually eat in restaurants and provide a quality product.”
She uses the same recipe her family crafted over the years in Mexico, which she said are thinner, have no flour seeds, and taste better overall. The competition judges described them as “consistently soft, flavorful and light.”
Navarro believes her tortillas have a good chance of winning at least one prize, but she knows the others vying for that grand prize want it just as much. Among her competitors are One & Done seasoning from Dallas, Tamale Addiction from Austin, and Meanest Mother’s Gravy from San Antonio.
“We want to be in a big chain and give good service,” Navarro said. “We know our tortilla is different than other products on the market.”
Monitor reporter Daniel Flores contributed to this report.