No, it’s not the holiday season again, tell your Abuela she still has months to recover her tired hands after feeding the family this Christmas season. The great news is, thanks to local restaurant, Casa de Tamales, you can enjoy delicious, handmade tamales all year round. In fact, you can even treat your grandmother to some she didn’t have to teach you how to make!
I discovered Casa de Tamales shortly after they opened in their original location, in the Kohl’s shopping center on W. Shaw at Brawley. I LOVE tamales. I get super excited when friends are kind enough to share with me, but knowing how time consuming they are to make, I hate to ask for them. Restaurant creator and owner, Liz Sanchez, must have known there were a lot of people like me here in the Central Valley, as she used the inspiration and recipes of her grandmother, to create the restaurant concept and menu.
Having a restaurant to go to, where I can enjoy a tamale lunch anytime, offering all kinds of tamales from traditional, to new gourmet and vegetarian, as well as one of the best green salads I’ve ever had – such a joy! (The Casa de Tamales salad has this amazing, slightly spicy yet cool dressing, roasted pepitas and corn, super fresh lettuce and a green salsa topping. If you’re eating light – you can get it as a meal with seasoned chicken breast on top, too.)
Since opening, Casa de Tamales has rapidly grown, in part due to word of mouth (once you’ve had their food, you’re very likely to tell everyone you know how good it was!) and also by being smart and embracing a both a brick-and-mortar and food truck approach, setting up in multiple locations during the week, including the Kern Street Market on Wednesdays, CArt Hop on Fulton Mall on Thursdays, and the Vineyard Farmers’ Market and Enzo’s Table on the weekends. This dual approach has allowed Casa de Tamales to grow in popularity relatively quickly – enough to now support two brick-and-mortar locations.
The original restaurant has moved from W. Shaw to the former Charlotte’s Bakery location on Olive in the Tower District, and just this week, they celebrated the official opening of their second restaurant, located on the Fulton Mall between Tulare and Inyo streets at 938 Fulton. Casa de Tamales also offers a fantastic and affordable catering menu and free delivery with any purchase over $50, they are my first go-to choice for lunch when I’m planning a meeting or event at work or a family party and I’m not in the mood to cook. My 8-year-old son loves their shredded beef tamales so much, it’s what he wants for his birthday meal this year. In addition to the brand new location on Fulton, Casa de Tamales has recently added beer, artisan sangria and a champagne brunch (Sundays, 10am to 2pm) to its Tower District offerings.
Personally, my favorite tamales are the shredded beef, jalapeño and cheese and the creamy chicken poblano. I also love the sweet corn dessert tamale with chipotle honey – so good! Check out their website for the complete menu, but be warned – if you read through it on an empty stomach, you may drool on your computer or smart phone. (Hey, you’ve been warned!)