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Tamale Hut Cafe?

Tamale Hut Cafe?
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  • Tamale Hut Cafe?

    Post #1 - March 13th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Post #1 - March 13th, 2006, 11:22 am Post #1 - March 13th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Anybody tried this place? We stopped by after going to Brookfield Zoo; I had never understood tamales, but assumed it was because I never had a good one - I was right. I thought these were addictive.

    Love to have the opinion of somebody who knows tamales - we don't live near, so I don't have pix.

    Tamale Hut Cafe
    8300 W. Cermak
    North Riverside
  • Post #2 - August 27th, 2007, 4:18 pm
    Post #2 - August 27th, 2007, 4:18 pm Post #2 - August 27th, 2007, 4:18 pm
    Trying to collect the fragmented opinions on T-Hut in one place, here's a comment by Seebee from earlier this month:

    For something a little different, and right around the corner from loyola:

    http://www.tamalehutcafe.com/

    Prices are steeper than a hole in the wall tamale place. I can rec the chicken and rajas tamales, and the tinga.
  • Post #3 - August 27th, 2007, 4:22 pm
    Post #3 - August 27th, 2007, 4:22 pm Post #3 - August 27th, 2007, 4:22 pm
    I believe I have mentioned this place a few times in the past. One of my co-workers stops by every other Friday and picks up a batch for the office. They are very good, but expensive for a tamale. I've had the chicken, pork, broccoli, bean, pineapple, and strawberry. I do wish they used something other than a green sauce, but everything has been tasty.

    Flip
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #4 - August 27th, 2007, 5:23 pm
    Post #4 - August 27th, 2007, 5:23 pm Post #4 - August 27th, 2007, 5:23 pm
    My own opinion:

    There is some very good ingredient selection and caring preparation going on at Tamale Hut Cafe, a bright, spacious room on the corner of 1st Avenue and Cermak/22nd in North Riverside.

    As stated in the restaurant's history printed on every menu, "tamales are typically not made every day due to the labor involved. They are made for special occasions." They are one of my favorite foods, and hard to find fresh (or at all, except for the Chicago fast-food version at Buona and Portillo's). Of the places that do have them nearly every day, my preferred tamales are at Xni-Pec (chicken "vaporcitos"), Frontera, and Fonda del Mar.

    Jaime at THC obviously shares our interest in this humble, wonderful festival food, as he started a restaurant themed around it in early 2006. His menu features eight regular types of tamal for about $2 each:

    Pork with green salsa
    Chicken with green salsa
    Cheese with jalapeno rajas and onions
    Spinach with cheese and red salsa
    Broccoli with cheese, bell peppers, and red salsa
    Crab with red salsa
    Pinto beans and green salsa
    Coconut and pineapple

    Other friends in the area have pointed out that he rotates a ninth in and out of the menu, which is currently a chicken mole.

    On my first visit today, I enjoyed a pork tamal and a cheese with rajas, both exceptional. Very moist, a strong fresh corn flavor, and good fillings. The pork was very simple - Jaime stated that it was steamed pork butt, cleaned very carefully to be lean, and dressed just in a little tomatillo salsa before assembling. The rajas was more complex and melted on the palate. The red and green table salsas (.20 to go, free in house) were blended very smooth, and while quite good, made me wish for a Xni-Pec coarsely chopped pico de gallo to offer more texture contrast.

    Jaime also made me a generous paper boat full of elote, which was steamed and shaved directly off of the cob, instead of roasted on a grill or fire, which is in my experience more typical and flavorful. However, the quality of corn this summer made it irresistable, and it the lime juice, mayo, melted butter, crumbled cotija cheese and spicy red pepper pushed it way over. Since he had just prepared a full pan of tinga for the dinner rush, he also sent over four chips with this shredded chicken and chipotle stew and some sour cream. It was rewardingly salty and smoky, but had few other notes: I confirmed that he uses canned/jarred peppers in sauce for the marinade instead of hand-roasting them.

    At 3 PM on a Monday, there was nobody else in the restaurant, which has the atmosphere of a Chipotle or Baja Fresh (somewhat corporate, floor to ceiling windows, carpet, metal-composite tables and chairs). As I ate, though, two different customers came in and filled big tamale orders. Jaime sells by the dozen to go, cold (unsteamed) but not frozen. With the bright ambience, steam trays, and lack of creature comforts it's not the ideal place for a big group dinner, but the food is simple, delicious, very fresh, and prepared with much pride and care. I can recommend it without hesitation and will be certain to stop on future trips westward.


    Tamale Hut Cafe, Inc.
    8300 W. Cermak
    North Riverside, IL
    (708) 442-0948

    M-F 6:30 AM - 9 PM
    Saturday 8:30 AM - 9 PM
    Sunday 8:30 AM - 6 PM
    (all times as of August 2007)
  • Post #5 - August 28th, 2007, 3:49 pm
    Post #5 - August 28th, 2007, 3:49 pm Post #5 - August 28th, 2007, 3:49 pm
    Santander wrote:My own opinion:

    There is some very good ingredient selection and caring preparation going on at Tamale Hut Cafe, a bright, spacious room on the corner of 1st Avenue and Cermak/22nd in North Riverside.

    ...the food is simple, delicious, very fresh, and prepared with much pride and care. I can recommend it without hesitation and will be certain to stop on future trips westward.


    Tamale Hut Cafe, Inc.
    8300 W. Cermak
    North Riverside, IL
    (708) 442-0948

    M-F 6:30 AM - 9 PM
    Saturday 8:30 AM - 9 PM
    Sunday 8:30 AM - 6 PM
    (all times as of August 2007)


    I tend to agree with this, and I do stop here for a late, "to go" dinner option. Jaime is definitely "good people," and the tamales are darn good. I'm partial to the rajas, the chicken, the bean, and I do like the tinga. The prices are not OUTRAGEOUS, but probably in line compared to what you pay for if you were to get tamales from a "dive" place, when you consider the packaging, and the decor.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #6 - August 29th, 2007, 6:11 pm
    Post #6 - August 29th, 2007, 6:11 pm Post #6 - August 29th, 2007, 6:11 pm
    So glad somebody dug this up, and to find out they have a location by Loyola! (though Clark St and it's inherent tamaleousity is closer to us) Tamale Hut was the first edible tamale I'd ever eaten (previous versions being all frozen) I thought they were darn good, myself, IIRC since that was over a year ago.
  • Post #7 - August 29th, 2007, 6:14 pm
    Post #7 - August 29th, 2007, 6:14 pm Post #7 - August 29th, 2007, 6:14 pm
    I would agree with most of the comments already tendered. Good tamales. High prices.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #8 - August 30th, 2007, 8:03 am
    Post #8 - August 30th, 2007, 8:03 am Post #8 - August 30th, 2007, 8:03 am
    Based on this thread, I stopped by for lunch yesterday.

    Great tamales as well as meat & bean chili.

    Don't understand why people would rather go to the neighboring Subway than this place.
  • Post #9 - August 30th, 2007, 10:08 am
    Post #9 - August 30th, 2007, 10:08 am Post #9 - August 30th, 2007, 10:08 am
    I'm glad you visited and enjoyed! Jaime told me he reads LTH once in a while and will likely be (mostly) happy with these revisits.
  • Post #10 - September 1st, 2007, 5:29 pm
    Post #10 - September 1st, 2007, 5:29 pm Post #10 - September 1st, 2007, 5:29 pm
    While I haven't tried them yet they better be really good at 2 bucks a pop.

    Los Tamales isn't all that far away (on 16th in Cicero) and when I stopped by today the pork tamales were 75 cents apiece by the dozen. A tad too much masa for the filling but very good tasting.

    75 cents vs 2 bucks. I just don't get it.
    "Make Lunch, Not War" ~ Anon
  • Post #11 - September 1st, 2007, 6:03 pm
    Post #11 - September 1st, 2007, 6:03 pm Post #11 - September 1st, 2007, 6:03 pm
    Panther in the Den wrote:While I haven't tried them yet they better be really good at 2 bucks a pop.

    Los Tamales isn't all that far away (on 16th in Cicero) and when I stopped by today the pork tamales were 75 cents apiece by the dozen. A tad too much masa for the filling but very good tasting.

    75 cents vs 2 bucks. I just don't get it.

    I agree. I pick up tamales at LT all the time. They have a nice selection available too, if you don't feel like the usual pork or chicken variety. Enjoy them while you can though, the family that runs it are moving back to Mexico.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #12 - December 4th, 2007, 1:26 pm
    Post #12 - December 4th, 2007, 1:26 pm Post #12 - December 4th, 2007, 1:26 pm
    Is Los Tamales still around? Thought I'd throw it out before I make a tamale run.
  • Post #13 - December 4th, 2007, 1:44 pm
    Post #13 - December 4th, 2007, 1:44 pm Post #13 - December 4th, 2007, 1:44 pm
    They were 2 weeks ago.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #14 - December 4th, 2007, 2:33 pm
    Post #14 - December 4th, 2007, 2:33 pm Post #14 - December 4th, 2007, 2:33 pm
    I'm pretty sure I read/heard rumblings of them closing up shop in the future. Not sure at all what the date was- I'd suggest calling first even if there was a "two week ago" confirmation. I'm hoping that the "closing" rumors are untrue.

    708-222-3544
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #15 - December 4th, 2007, 2:54 pm
    Post #15 - December 4th, 2007, 2:54 pm Post #15 - December 4th, 2007, 2:54 pm
    Congrats on 400 posts, Cogito and Seebee, and in the very same thread! May your tamale wishes be fulfilled.
  • Post #16 - December 4th, 2007, 3:15 pm
    Post #16 - December 4th, 2007, 3:15 pm Post #16 - December 4th, 2007, 3:15 pm
    Santander wrote:Congrats on 400 posts, Cogito and Seebee, and in the very same thread! May your tamale wishes be fulfilled.

    Thanks, Seebee and I go back together a long way, about 400 posts to be exact. :wink: I was told at the store last summer that the family was moving back to Mexico because the kid had been offered a good job, but maybe it fell through. It's been a few months.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #17 - December 4th, 2007, 9:19 pm
    Post #17 - December 4th, 2007, 9:19 pm Post #17 - December 4th, 2007, 9:19 pm
    LT was open at 530pm today.
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #18 - September 30th, 2008, 10:44 am
    Post #18 - September 30th, 2008, 10:44 am Post #18 - September 30th, 2008, 10:44 am
    Still $2 a pop, but I don't write often enough about how worth it that is for this nice and accommodating of a place. Twice this summer I used them for ad hoc catering, and they put together 24+ carefully packaged hot tamales, 10+ paper boats of elote (particularly fantastic in August), and pans of tinga without breaking a sweat, within about 20 minutes of ordering.

    Jaime just refreshed the art gallery, and they're starting some Latino art and music evenings later in the fall. If you haven't had your harvest-season corn quotient, I highly recommend dropping by. The "off the cob" elote order is several ears' worth, richly laced with lime, butter, mayo, cotija, and a very good red chili powder. With an atole (or Mexican coke, if you prefer) to wash it down, this place is an altar to corn, and now's the time to pray.
  • Post #19 - May 19th, 2013, 7:52 pm
    Post #19 - May 19th, 2013, 7:52 pm Post #19 - May 19th, 2013, 7:52 pm
    I don't generally like replying to myself, but I figure there is a statute of limitations involved with the better part of five calendar years intervening: this place still rocks. Tamale Hut Cafe is a bright, airy room filled with interesting art, welcoming owners, Mexican Coke products, and really delicious tamales. They have an uncompromising commitment to ingredients and scratch process that probably costs them in margin and volume, and I have never run into another dine-in customer in six years of visits; things do get really slow with big takeout orders (where I'm occasionally the culprit), since the place is usually staffed solo.

    Better even than the green chile chicken and steamed pork shoulder tamales are the mushroom, spinach, and rajas varieties, each with their excellent cheese. They have experimented recently with a few new flavors like marinated charcoal-grilled steak. Best of all for me are their elotes, made from the best corn they can locate any given month, and they are extremely careful, so even early or off season this is a trust-able staple. I like mine off the cob, fully dressed, and "cayenne for kick" (vs. "for color."). This place is a must on any trip to the zoo - check it out.
  • Post #20 - May 19th, 2013, 9:10 pm
    Post #20 - May 19th, 2013, 9:10 pm Post #20 - May 19th, 2013, 9:10 pm
    Tamale Hut Cafe was a regular stop for pick-up for us before we left Chicago. I did get a dozen tamales on my last trip back, and they were just as good as ever.

    I don't think I've ever seen someone dining in there. Usually not that many other customers taking out either. They never seem like they do enough business, but they must since they've stayed open all this time. In any event, they are a great spot with great tamales, and definitely worth a stop for anyone visiting the zoo.
  • Post #21 - May 19th, 2013, 9:22 pm
    Post #21 - May 19th, 2013, 9:22 pm Post #21 - May 19th, 2013, 9:22 pm
    LOL-
    I almost went tonight after a long, hard, day of suburban homeownership hard labor (transplanting the hostas, planting the annuals, and putting down mulch.) I agree with Santander wholeheartedly, and I don't stop in as much as I should. Dinner this week for sure. Jaime and Lissette are great people.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.

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