Tortilla Flat provides a welcomed escape from city life
Tortilla Flat is not a new attraction in Arizona. In fact, its storied history has been passed through generations as it became one of the most popular small-town destinations out West. What is new about this ‘diamond in the rough’ town is its ownership. And with that came a whole bunch of rustic renovations and exciting new additions. But before we get into that, let’s take a ride on The Dolly.
The captain’s voice rings out at the dock as he begins to board the 1987 vessel, The Dolly. Popcorn fills the air as eager passengers all look for a seat with a good view. As you slowly start to chug along Canyon Lake, a slight breeze cools your face. The captain’s voice once again rings out as he starts to talk about the different rock formations and wildlife among the rocks. One thing is for sure, those 90 minutes seem to fly by as you take in the breathtaking views around you.
After your boat ride, continue down the road to the town of Tortilla Flat. A true hidden gem, tucked away in the desert mountains. Named after the nearby rock formation that resembles a tortilla, the entire town is located on one side of the road. Tortilla Flat was purchased in 2019 by self-appointed mayor, Katie Ellering, who won the “election” in a landslide by getting votes from all six residents that call Tortilla Flat home. The town was acquired by Ellering, her other half Chris Field, and their partners Ryan Coady, Tom Misitano and Dale Evans. After pouring in their blood, sweat and tears, as well as a half million dollars, the town is for now how they envision it.
“We are tourists just like you,” Chris shouted before the long-awaited unveiling of their newest contribution. “This town will have many owners and many more contributions made to it [beyond us].”
The newest attraction? The newly constructed Tortilla Flat jail. Upon first inspection, it seems like a simple jail; however, once you get inside, you must solve a series of puzzles to set yourself free. With adult and kid versions, this attraction provides fun for the whole family.
Once you’ve broken out of jail, you’ll want to have a cold drink on the patio and listen to the sweet sounds of freedom coming through the instruments of the wildly entertaining local band. At this point, I’m sure you’ve worked up quite an appetite. Just next door, there is a terrific local eatery that is guaranteed to surprise you. With hand-decorated dollar bills spanning every inch of the walls, you will have more than enough to keep a conversation going while your food is prepared in the back.
While the new owners kept the authentic and traditional ambiance, they did do a complete overhaul of the menu. But trust me, you cannot go wrong with anything you pick. The only original recipe remaining is Tortilla Flat’s famous chili that has not been changed since 1940. Everything else is, once again, their creation.
Wilbur’s Favorite was easily a table favorite and a must try. It is a heaping plate of potato wedges smothered in barbeque pulled pork. In addition, “Mayor” Ellering did point out that her favorite hot dog from her home state of Minnesota is also on the menu. And it was not an easy feat to accomplish.
Finally, after dinner, don’t forget to stop by the old time Country Store and get an old-fashioned ice cream cone. I highly recommend the Poison Berry ice cream in a waffle cone. It’s a delicious combination of blueberry and raspberry flavors that I have not seen anywhere else.
Tortilla Flat might be a quaint, little town off the beaten path, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you want to return for the breathtaking views, the good company, and the amazing food.