Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana brings Mexico City to Memphis

Posted by Holly Whitfield | January 14th 2010 4443 0

While I was eating lunch at Las Tortugas this afternoon, I heard the owner, Pepe Magallanes, talking to another customer about spending his morning buying the restaurant’s daily supply of meat, avocados, tortillas and tomatoes. I mentioned it on Twitter and got this reply from @cocomo7:

“Love love LOVE the food there but I can definitely skip the talk about the freshness of the food. I can tell when I eat it.”

So, at her request, I’m not going to talk about how fresh all of the ingredients in my tacos were. Instead, you can see it for yourself.

Fish Tacos from Las Tortugas, Memphis, Tenn.

Fish Tacos from Las Tortugas, Memphis, Tenn.

I had an order of fish tacos (made with red snapper) topped with cilantro, avocado, and some creamy, spicy green sauce wrapped in palm-sized corn tortillas. The tacos came with a side of chips, pico de gallo and more of the tasty green sauce.

Las Tortugas prides itself on serving the sort of authentic dishes that you would find at an upscale taqueria or torteria in Mexico City. There are no burritos, no chalupas, and don’t even think about asking if the staff could add sour cream on the side. Instead, the restaurant serves tacos and tortas (Mexican sandwiches), elote (corn on the cob covered in mayo and cheese), and frescas (refreshing fruit drinks).

The tiny, popular restaurant is run by native Mexican Pepe and his son Jonathan (who is completely cute and charming). There are posters on the wall of Pepe skydiving, laminated copies of articles about the restaurant and signs that note that the staff doesn’t care where you’re from or what kind of Mexican food you’re used to – this is their shop, and that if you just give it a try, you’ll love it.

Deli Mexicana, Memphis, Tenn.

Deli Mexicana, Memphis, Tenn.

Go There:

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

1215 South Germantown Road
Germantown, TN 38138
6300 Poplar Ave #115
Memphis, TN 38119

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Kalisa says:

    That green sauce is called “Tayde sauce.” It’s named after a girl named Tayde who was a St. Jude cancer patient from St. Jude that the Magallaneses knew. Oh why am I talking in past tense? Tayde is alive and well and beautiful and WORKS at St. Jude now!

  2. Kirk Gipson says:


    Out of curiosity, did he mention where he shops for his ingredients? I would love to know where he gets some of the ingredients…

  3. cara says:

    Wish they had vegetarian options…

  4. ADM says:

    They do have vegetarian options! The Tortuga Queso Fresco Oaxaca sandwich is totally veggie, and you can get it without the cheese if you want a vegan option – it’s just beans, avocado, tomato and queso fresco – and it’s fantastic!! I think I saw some veggie tamales on the specials menu last time I was there too….

  5. Elissa says:

    There are lots of Veggie options. The other day they had Balck Bean Tamales . . . yum!

  6. […] can also hit up any number of Memphis’ best Mexican restaurants – try La Guadalupana, Las Tortugas, Cafe Ole, Fuego Maya or Las […]

  7. Thought provoking and interesting, thank you. I was brought up in mexico but moved to england at such a young age I barely remember anything apart from the tasty food and fiery people. I finally found some authentic mexican food if you want to have a look, I thought I’d share it with you!

  8. Barry S says:

    I am blind and use a guide dog. I was refused service because I require the use of my guide dog for mobility. I tried to explain to no avail that they were violating ADA laws. They were rude.

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