Tamale Lady Set for April Return to S.F.

The Tamale Lady is rolling back into the Mission, with a brick-and-mortar restaurant set to open in April 2018.

Jay Galvin/Flickr

Hey, Joven! It’s been nearly five years since San Francisco’s patron saint of late-night drunk food the Tamale Lady vowed to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant, after a regrettable 2013 city code crackdown banned her from selling tamales at Zeitgeist and other regular Mission stops. The Tamale Lady ban made national news, but it appeared that venerable one-woman tamale institution Virginia Ramos would never open that restaurant after a 2013 IndieGogo campaign fell well short of its fundraising goal.

But Virginia Ramos will indeed open her long-promised restaurant. The Chronicle reports that the Tamale Lady is scheduled to open her restaurant in April this year, at the 2943 16th St. location (at Capp St.) that had previously been home to Sonia’s Latin American restaurant.

“Things have just taken a long time. Everything seemed to be slow. But I have the lease for this place so I wasn’t going anywhere,” Ramos told the Chronicle. “I just waited.”

Though her IndieGogo campaign only hit half of its goal, Ramos received grants from the Mission Housing Development Corporation and the mayor’s office for nonprofit developers to perform the necessary earthquake retrofits on the soft-story building.  You may not see the Tamale Lady’s signature pushcart and Rubbermaid coolers at the new space, but you’ll be able to get tamales at hours that will not be drunken Mission Street hooligan-shows.

To bide your time until the scheduled April 2018 opening of the restaurant (which of course is named Tamale Lady), check out this 20-minute life-story documentary Our Lady of Tamale produced in honor of Ramos’ 50th birthday, featuring the songs of Rube Waddell, Los Crudos, the Naysayers, and other mid-2010s musical notables.

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