Last September, when Michael Wyont closed his Flores Barbecue trailer in Fort Worth, the Texas food world suffered a loss. The popular Tex-Mex barbecue business had moved from the small town of Whitney, close to Wyont’s home, to Fort Worth only seven months earlier. He cited the desire to refocus on family. “The big city I don’t think is for me,” Wyont told barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. But, Wyont promised, he wasn’t done with the food business. Since mid-February, he’s been selling smoked beef tallow–infused flour tortillas—the same fan favorites he had used for his crispy-edged smoked carnitas. The shift in business seemed natural, since his tortillas had become even more beloved than Flores’s barbecue. “People would buy them by the dozen or just, you know, for tacos,” he says. Now he’s perfected them.
Wyont substitutes the traditional pork lard (manteca) used in old-fashioned flour tortillas with the fat from the aforementioned protein he smokes himself. First, he hand-rolls the dough into balls, then flattens them in a metal press before tossing them onto a flattop griddle to be par-cooked. The result bridges the thick and squishy Central Texas–style flour tortilla with the rich, buttery, and gossamer beef tallow–infused Sonoran flour tortilla. At home, it’s best to heat the tortilla on a flattop comal, a griddle, or on a stovetop gas burner. Doing so allows the tortilla to inflate and subtly separates its layers. A smoky aroma emanates from the flour disc as it puffs. It is glorious. The tortillas are chewy, flaky, and substantial enough to withstand the abundant strips of fajita I piled atop them.
Wyont learned to make his own tortillas out of necessity. He grew up in San Marcos, where there have always been plentiful options for buying freshly made tortillas. But when he moved to Whitney, he couldn’t find them anywhere. “I wanted to make my own so I could have something to eat here.” To do so, Wyont drew on memories of his Mexican American grandmother’s flour tortillas. “Obviously, she wasn’t using smoked beef tallow, but it took a little while to come up with a recipe and a technique to make the dough to come out with a product that was very reminiscent of my grandmother’s tortillas,” he says. “I hold them near and dear to my heart.”
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During our conversation, Wyont mentioned that leaning into the Tex-Mex at Flores Barbecue—where he sold barbecue tacos and a roasted elote salad—was always part of the plan, but its success caught him by surprise. “I didn’t think it was going to take off like it did … especially in Whitney,” he says. “The attention throughout the barbecue community was amazing too. This is a different kind of product than most people are used to, and I had the privilege of being part of the Texas Monthly Top 50, so that automatically brings quite a bit of attention.” He’s since been using his social media presence to grow his tortilla business.
Currently, Flores Tortillas are available via mail order through the business’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as at a newly launched website. Wyont also sets up booths at the Whitney and San Marcos farmers markets. At the latter, he regularly sells about 1,200 tortillas. In Whitney, he does about half that. “I’m thinking we will be at two hundred-plus dozen a week soon,” the tortillero says.
Meanwhile, he’s pushing to expand his mail-order business. “We are getting closer to shipping them all over, just trying to make it more cost-effective … and reduce shipping costs,” Wyont says. Interest has grown so much that Wyont quit his day job in the corporate food industry and made his side gig a full-time operation. On Instagram, he’s received messages from tortilla lovers and restaurants across Texas and from as far away as California, Michigan, and Florida. Many of them haven’t even tried Flores Tortillas yet. The tortillero admits surprise at the enthusiasm. “They only know about the product through our reputation, but have never had it and are willing to order [our tortillas].”
Will Wyont open a barbecue operation again someday? When we spoke, he hinted that he might. A proper taqueria is another possibility, he said. I have my fingers crossed for the latter. Thankfully, even if he decides to circle back to smoked meats, it’s practically a requirement these days for a barbecue joint or a pop-up to offer tacos. Until then, he’s sticking with the most important component of a taco: the tortilla.