Saturday, June 22, 2013

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor

Déjà Goût ~ the strong sensation that you have eaten something before

(No official web-site.)

2817 24th Street (Between Bryant and York Streets)

phonicular contact: (415) 824-2600

(This is such a cool song. I want it to be played as my funeral march when I am dead. I especially want the mourners ~ both of them ~ to be bopping right along to the beat, too.)

Even though they technically don't open up until 10:00am on the weekends, I decided to go to Roosevelt Tamale[1] Parlor for my desayunory repast this morning. The door was actually open when I walked by about ten minutes before 10:00am and they were nice enough to seat me early, anyway. They are right next door to
La Torta Gorda (see 'blog-entry from January 26th, 2013). I have had lunch at Roosevelt Tamale Parlor once before recently, but this was the first time I have been there for breakfast.

I know what you are thinking, "Why 'Roosevelt'?" It has nothing to do with the Spanish-American War and Teddy and his roughshod friends; it is just that the original family that opened the restaurant back in 1919 (and the restaurant has been at the same location continuously since then under different ownerships) was a Dutch family named Roosevelt. And, again, I know what you are thinking, "Dutch in the Mission?" Well, it wasn't always a predominantly Mexican neighborhood; back in the 40's and 50's it was primarily an Irish neighborhood even. Now why a Dutch family opened a tamales parlour, I have no idea.

La Misión is well-known for its abundance of murals. This one was right across the street from today's breakfastary destination in a little children's park.

I purposely got over there about a half hour before I knew Roosevelt Tamale Parlor to open so that I could start off the morning by going to Dynamo Donut & Coffee, which is just across the street and a block away. I got a Ginger Orange ~ donut with orange zest and candied ginger topped with a ginger glaze ~ and a cuppa Fourbarrel Coffee. The doughnut was fresh and excellent, but I was a bit disappointed in the coffee. I suppose it was okay, but really didn't compare to the quality of the doughnut. I didn't ask what roast of coffee it was. Dynamo has a great selection of unusual doughnuts and I bet the Bacon Maple Apple would be a favourite of some that partake of the dead, decaying porky bits.

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor offers many desayunos típicos mexicanos ~ Chilaquiles, Huevos Rancheros, Omelettes (Mexicano, Americano, Ranchero, Vegetariano), y de este modo adelante. I was thinking of getting the Chilaquiles (which they offer with either a red or green sauce, which is nice), but seeing as they are famous for their tamales (it is part of their name, after all), I decided on getting one of their tamales. They actually have four different types of vegetarian tamales: Corn Sweet Tamal (with tomatillo sauce); Tamal de Frijol (black bean tamal smothered in Doña[2] Maria's mole sauce); Tamal de Calabacitas c
on crema (squash tamal with tomatillo sauce); and one other (which looked really good, but I can't remember what was in it). Don't worry, they also offer three kinds of meat tamales: pork, chicken, and beef. All tamales plates are served with rice and beans and come as a choice of single (one tamal) or dinner (two tamales). As usual, the mole was the deciding factor for me, and I got the Tamal de Frijol. I also had a large glass of Agua Fresca de Sandia ~ watermelon and a hint of cilantro (which is always extra good with a big squeeze from the slice of lime garnish).

I went with the "single" choice. With the doughnut beforehand, this was more than enough food for mi apetito; however, someone with un apetito más grande may want to get it as "dinner". I don't know if you can get two different types when you order it like that, but you could always just order a side dish of a different type if you wanted, I suppose. The tamal was very good and it also had a very good mole; it was not too spicy, but had lots of flavour to it. Everyone has their own special recipe for a mole, and this happened to be Doña Maria's.

Now I am not really that much of an aficionado (sorry, I don't know the Spanish word for that) of tamales as it is usually pretty hard to find a place that actually does a vegetarian version (let alone one that does four different types). I used to work with a Mexican guy named Miguel Sosa whose wife, Rosa (yes, she was actually "Rosa Sosa"), would sometimes make tamales for the entire office. Rosa was always kind enough to make a few special pineapple-raisin (piña y pasas) tamales for me, and that was the extent of my tamales experience.

Figuring (correctly) that Roosevelt Tamale Parlor would have their own fresh-made salsa for condimentary supplementation, I didn't bother bringing any of my own bottled hot sauces with me this morning. Theirs was not too picante,
pero con un gusto muy sabroso. What I ended up doing was mixing the rice and beans together and adding a mess o' the salsa to it and use it as a dip for the tortilla chips that they provide.

stupid parklet mini-rant of the day
I got to talking to the manager (owner?) guy (he was the one that explained the whole nomenclature/ethnicity questions for me) and asked him what his opinion is on the whole parklet situation. I must admit, I loved his answer: "I f*cking hate them!" and he went on to agree with just about all of my points on the obnoxious parking obstructions, too. Luckily, this part of the Mission hasn't been infected with all that stupidity… yet.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Ginger Orange Donut ~ 7.0; Tamal de Frijol ~ 7.0

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist/pseudo-culinaristic pointer del día, número uno:

"Tamal" is the correct singular form of this word and "tamales" is the plural. This word comes from Spanish for the Nahuatl word "tamalli". It looks like Roosevelt Tamale Parlor has corrected this misperception on their menu items, but has left the historical name of the restaurant as it is.

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer del día, número dos:

"Doña" is the Spanish female equivalent of the honorific "Don". They both derive from Latin "dominus", meaning "master/lord".

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