Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Nadine Levy Redzepi of Downtime: Deliciousness at Home | Ask Your Questions Now ›

Restaurants & Bars

San Francisco Bay Area Central American Tamales

Sunday sanctuary – More hot churros, hand-shaved raspados & Central American tamales


Restaurants & Bars 1

Sunday sanctuary – More hot churros, hand-shaved raspados & Central American tamales

rworange | Aug 28, 2006 12:33 AM

My guess is that after the Sunday Spanish mass in many Bay Area locations with large Latino communities like Oakland or Richmond ... there are street vendors greeting the people after services.

There are fresh mangoes on sticks carved like flowers, dewy from a sqeeze of lime with a blush of red chili ... elote, corn on the cob. slathered with mayo, rolled in crumbly cotija cheese then dusted with chili ... bags of potato chips, duritos and fresh tropical fruit ... ice cream carts with paletas and raspados ... and ... if lucky ... tamales.

That is the scene after the Spanish mass at St Cornelius located on MacDonald & Broadway, near McDonald's.

The star of this show is the churro man with the tamale vendor the leading lady.

I arrived JUST as Sunday mass let out, about 12:45 ... rush hour. It is better to get there a little earlier because everyone makes a bee-line to the churro guy.

With the pressure of the crowd (though he really doesn’t look pressured) a few of the churros are cooked a little less golden due to quicker turnover.

The sugar-cinnamon coated churros are still deliciously crispy on the outside with a soft doughy interior that cooks more in the bag after they are removed from the hot oil ... my guess lard ... probably the bad for you kind of lard because these taste so good.

Here’s last week’s report on the churro guy followed by a picture that looks like the huge coiled churros at the church.

They loose crispiness when they cool and microwaving didn’t bring it back ... it just distributed the oil more. With all that sugar and cinnamon, it is good eats anyway, but heaven (heh) right out of the fryer in front of the church.

The tamale lady was working the churro line. They were $2.50, almost twice the cost of most tamales in the area. When the steaming bag was opened there was a huge square tamale wrapped in banana leaves. The moist texture indicates Central American tamales, but I’m not sure which part.

The masa was mixed with red chili flakes. Inside was a mixture of corn, peas and chicken. The chicken was on the dry side, but the masa was so good it didn’t matter too much. I would have been really happy just with the masa in those banana leaves.

The raspado guy was shaving ice off a big block and most people were ordering the mango-colored syrup which turned out to be vanilla. He had both ‘naturale’, that is home-made, and bottled raspados. It was very good but not as good as the raspado lady outside La Raza market on 22nds and MacDonald.

Leaping back into my illegally parked car, I noticed the raspado lady from La Raza nearby. Should you do Sunday brunch on the street in front of the church, I would recommend the raspado lady over the raspado guy. He’s still good, but he doesn’t have the same touch shaving ice.

Also, his potato chips, while very tasty, were not as good as the potato chip guy who rolls up my street every now and then. The chips were a little oiler, saltier and a micro-bit thicker. It was a bigger bag and still very tasty. For a raspado and a bag of chips $3.

This is so down-home Mexican. When I worked in Mexico City, the vendors would gather after masses selling lots of soul-satisfying snacks. I give the edge to the Richmond vendors at St. Cornelius.

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound