Regardless of what you thought of their Mexican cuisine (and opinions varied widely), Herndon’s Tortilla Factory was something of an institution. And now it’s closing, a victim of the hard economic times and the plethora of food choices in Northern Virginia now.
But if you lived in Reston or Herndon when the Tortilla Factory first opened on Elden Street in 1975, there was almost no place to eat out. Herndon had Uncle Abe’s Pizza, Pizzaria Sylvana and Hardee’s. Reston had the Lake Anne Inn, and nobody ate there. And then came this place with Mexican (huh? wha?) food. “Hey, we didn’t order these triangle chips. They’re free? What’s this red stuff in the bowl?” Our palates were expanded, and the freshly made chips and salsa became a big local favorite.
The place became hugely popular. Long waits were the norm. They sometimes had live music, and the Reston-Herndon Folk Club met there for 25 years. My parents had a “frequent diner” card that was slowly worn to a shred, and it became a running joke that anytime one of the kids came back to town, we were getting hauled back to the Tortilla Factory.
But the consensus became the food ain’t what it once was. I recently had a quesadilla that was virtually bereft of queso. Then, at a town council meeting last month, the agenda showed the town was considering taking legal action against the Factory for nonpayment of taxes. Owner Charles Curcio told the Fairfax Times that the economics, and the need to renovate, just didn’t add up and it was time to close. For many in the Herndon-Reston-Great Falls area, it’s a tradition that will be missed. Curcio said he will release the salsa recipe after the last bowl is devoured, which may have already happened. They were going to try to stay open into this week, but it appears the Factory already is no mas.
Will you miss the Tortilla Factory? Let us know in the comments.