Tamale Boy's sleek kitchen van has been a popular lunch-time destination around Portland for some time. Eventually that expanded to catering. So it isn't totally surprising that Jaime Soltero, purveyor of lucious tamales, beans and rice, has now opened a brick and mortar restaurant .
Gracias a Portland Food Adventures, I had a coupon for Tamale Boy some time ago. We located Jaime's truck and received an order of tamales, beans and rice. Once home, we plated the traditional foods on Fiesta Ware and accompanied the lunch with a drink in authentic Mexican glasses. That's when I found out that Tamale Boy's food was special. So this weekend I scheduled in lunch during the grand opening of their restaurant on Delkum Street in NE Portland.
At the restaurant Tamale Boy keeps the menu simple... featuring northern and southern Tamales, sides and beverages including a Mexican favorite, horchata. The new restaurant was easy to find, it was easy to locate neighborhood parking and the staff was welcoming. They were eager to provide, fresh, locally sourced ingredients made into traditional Mexican tamales.
Whether you enjoy your tamale wrapped in a banana leaf or in a corn husk, you'll savor every last bit of your meal. I chose a Norteño Tamale ($3.50) filled with Tinga de Pollo Chicken cooked with onion, garlic, and chipotle. I love their beans so added a side of Frijoles Puercos ($2.00). Their bean recipe is native to Sinaloa. The beans are refried and cooked with bacon, ham, chorizo, chopped onion, and chipotle. They have a wonderful flavor.
Tamale Boy pays attention to what is good for you. Many ingredients are locally sourced. Some are marked gluten free and others, Vegan. This isn't the standard fatty Mexican-American fare you are used to. Think fresh, lower in calories and healthy.
With Mexican music in the background, I relaxed and felt the warmth of Mexico on a blustery Portland day. I noticed they have an expansive patio which, I'll bet, will be filled with diners come summer. I'll be back and I now know where I'll get my tamales para la Navidad. They sell them by the dozen (order ahead!).