If you frequent the area near McGolrick Park, you might have been surprised to see a huge line snaking out of the Screen Door over the weekend (ice cream is great, but in the dead of winter? And in the morning?)
The Screen Door (145 Driggs Ave.) is on a winter hiatus, but the much-lauded Border Town is taking the reins for the next few months, serving up tacos de guisado from Thursday through Saturday. A word to the wise — the tacos go fast, so get there early (we’re talking 8 a.m. early) to ensure you snag something.
Over the past few years, Border Town, run by locals Jorge Aguilar and Amanda Rosa, has earned plaudits for their pillowy soft flour tortillas. The duo was kind enough to speak to Greenpointers to share some secrets of their success (hint — it all comes down to the flour).
How did you get your start in the food industry? What led you to eventually focus on tortillas?
JA: I’ve been working in kitchens and restaurants since I was 18 back in California. I’ve done it all from quick-service to fine dining. I’ve always been drawn to food — eating it, cooking it, learning about it — and I really never saw myself doing anything else. The tortilla focus came later on — being from Mexico and growing up around fresh tortillas, I was spoiled. When Amanda and I moved to Brooklyn in late 2019, we couldn’t find anything comparable to back home. Covid permitted us the time to experiment, and that’s really what set me off on trying to make my own Sonoran style tortillas. It was honestly more a personal goal to selfishly be able to eat good flour tortillas again rather than it being a business plan. Amanda was the one who had the idea to sell them — she figured if we were pining for a good tortilla, there had to be others in Brooklyn who were seeking out the same. Lucky for us, she was right.
What initially attracted you to starting a business in Greenpoint?
AR: This is our neighborhood! We live down the block from The Screen Door — McGolrick Park is our park, Met Food is our grocery store, Variety is our everyday coffee shop, and so on. We’ve loved the community for as long as we’ve been a part of it, and the goal has always been to have a business here, even if it’s just a pop-up concept for now.
Folks have been raving about your tortillas for years. What do you think sets them apart?
JA: I use Sonoran wheat flour that my mom in California/dad in Mexico coordinate to get across the border and to me here in Brooklyn — good old USPS! Pork lard is another important element — a good tortilla needs good fat, and I found that pork lard created the best texture, taste and end product. Finally, and most importantly, they’re fresh. We hand make every single flour tortilla — from making the dough to portioning to rolling to cooking. It’s definitely a labor of love, but luckily I love doing it — a fresh tortilla hot off the skillet with a little bit of butter is as good as it gets.
How did the idea to pop up at the Screen Door come about?
AR: Funny enough, Jorge and I have eyed The Screen Door as a potential pop-up location for years. We even reached out to Kate (the owner) back in 2021 just to introduce ourselves and throw out the idea of doing an early AM concept out of their shop. At the time, she very politely declined as they were still getting their own operation settled. Then, one day back in November of last year we had a DM from Kate asking about our interest in taking over the space during their winter hiatus — we obviously jumped at the chance. It felt very serendipitous.
Already you’ve seen lines out the door! How does it feel to see this kind of response?
JA: It’s amazing and also a little intimidating! We were fairly confident there’d be a positive response, not only due to the lack of breakfast options in the immediate area, but also because we’ve had some time to build up a loyal following.
Even so, it’s certainly been more than we could have anticipated. Now it’s on us to not drop the ball and deliver the best possible experience/food for our customers, especially when they’re braving the cold temps to support our business. We couldn’t be more grateful.
Would you ever consider opening a brick-and-mortar location?
JA: If the location, timing and opportunity was right, absolutely. That’s the natural next step and it’s ultimately what we’ve been working toward. Of course it’s a little daunting thinking about taking that leap, especially with it being so tough out there for restaurants right now. But we know we’ll never know for sure unless we try, and it’d be amazing to finally have a place to call our own, where our friends and family and customers who’ve been supporting us all these years could come to. It’s the dream. (PS: If anyone has any leads on the park corner luncheonette space – give us a call! JK (but really!)).