by Steven Doyle
In a time when women were kept at home and away from the workplace Maria Luna, who at the time was a single parent, rose from the kitchen to create her mark on Dallas history with Luna’s Tortilla Factory. A strong and devoted woman Luna gathered local women to crush her nixtamal , or corn that would become masa. Once gathered from Luna had the masa formed into tortillas and tamales which became a business that is now 95 years old and run by her son and grandson, both named Fernando.
Maria Luna ran her business, originally located on McKinney Avenue near downtown on a block that Luna purchased in 1938 for about $50,000 and shared with the original El Fenix. There the family worked, living above the tortilla factory. This meant dedication. Maria never turned away a stranger in need of fresh tortillas regardless of the hour. The building has since been remodeled to accommodate Meso Maya, and is considered a historical landmark.
Today Maria Luna is honored with a park on Maple Avenue (400 Maple Ave) named for her as well as namesake Maria Luna Food and Nutrition Center at DISD.
In 2013 Luna’s factory on Harry Hines burned, completely destroying the factory, but opened a year ago at 2555 Connector Drive next to the Gas Monkey Grill.
“We are now serving a full menu and have closed the restaurant on Harry Hines moving all of our operations to this new building”, Fernando Luna, Jr told us recently. His face beamed as he gave us a walking tour of the facility which allows diners to watch the tortilla factory in operation, currently producing 600 tortillas an hour.
The dining options are nothing short of amazing with original family recipes being used by the chef, cranking out beautiful plates of guiso and costillas de res. We enjoy a fantastic ribeye with an amazing char and sauce. The brunch menu is full of breakfast taco and burrito choices, and we particularly enjoyed a set of tamales topped with a sunny egg. The tamales are loaded with beef, wrapped in moist, steamed masa for the very perfect bite.
Luna’s has a second floor with a second bar for parties, overflow as well as a meeting room which can be rented and catered for all sorts of events. The building is perched on a large pond which gives cool breezes as the air reflects off the water. The patio is a large semi-circle and is shady for the perfect repast. The cocktail hour may easily extend through the evening with one of Luna;s signature margaritas that packs a punch.
Luna’s is the place in Dallas for tortillas, tamales and an any time meal served with a large slice of Dallas history.