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Beef Tamale at Roosevelt Tamale Parlor

I have seen that this place gets pretty negative reviews (although I'n not certain whether the negative posts pre-date the change in ownership), but I had a delicious beef tamale there for lunch yesterday. It was unusual in that it was the shape and size of a baseball, and the filling-to-masa ration was skewed toward filling. Spicy ground beef, tasty masa, and a delicious light orange sauce. It had a spiciness that was noticeable by the end. Also had a pork taco. Delicious roasted pork topped with a cabbage slaw that had a sweeter dressing than I would have preferred. All in all a good and very filling meal.

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  1. Thanks for the update. I think most of the negative report were after they re-opened.

    Did you get the combo plate? How were the rice and beans? Do you rmember if you can order single items without rice and beans?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      At a recent lunch I took the option of tortillas instead of rice & beans, which I much prefer. Think this choice is generally available.

    2. I'm stunned by the positive comments about the tamales in this place. I was steered there during my tamale hunt weekend there (I had to fabulous weekends in SF for a family reunion). If what they serve now is better than before, I shudder to think what was being served before. I too tried the ground beef - and it was the worst of the lot. I tried several different ones, hoping one would be better than the next. All were bloody awful. The texture of the meat in the ground beef (what the &*^$!, I said initially) was the texture of Dinty Moore's canned tamales, the sauce was flat and tasteless. I threw them all away. Never had such bad tamales before. The decor is nice, the color scheme is awfully nice - the old pictures, charming, but if you want good tamales, don't bother trying theirs. Really not worth it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: martasiete

        If I had seen your tamale hunt post, I would have strongly recommended that you not bother unless you're from somewhere that doesn't have any tamales. The vast majority of tamales in this town are terrible - big, compact, dry, tasteless with bad masa-to-filling ratio. I've only had one really good out-of-hand tamale in SF, the only way to choke down most of these suckers is to plate them and drown them in sauce and crema.

        But then I'm very picky because I grew up eating Texas and Southwestern/Sonoran tamales. I made a batch of tamales last weekend and took some to the office for a Cinco de Mayo event - people went nuts. Some people just seemed astonished someone would and could make tamales from scratch, others seemed astonished to eat tamale that was moist, light, flavorful and not a belly bomb. It was kinda sad.

        The only two places that I've found worthwhile is Primavera tamales are okay nuevo tamales if you like that sort of thing. All-Star has a decent selection of varieties, some of which are better than others. That basement place in Oakland is good enough if you're planning on saucing them.

        1. re: larochelle

          I tried All-Star while up there - not impressed. I tried Primavera and agree -- they're a play off the traditional but very, very delicious and is respectful to the tradition and ingredients.

          1. re: larochelle

            Salvador style tamales are the lightest I've ever had.

          2. re: martasiete

            WOW - Dinty Moore cans tamales - eeeewwwww did you really buy it and try it? You must have been starving or dared! Anyway good to know.

            1. re: chilicrema

              yeah, can you believe it. We had to know what the deal was. It was a novelty. We had to see if it could really be done so my mom bought some (my mom was new to the U.S. and the notion of tamales in a can intrigued her - so we tried them -- once.

              I tried Spam too.

          3. The new owners are Peruvian and there were a couple of Peruvian specials on the chalk board the day I was there. Having no expertise in Mexican or Peruvian--like art: I don't know much about it but I know what I like only I don't know what the things I like are--I wonder if this background would inform one's choices of Mexican dishes from the menu. Like maybe, no to tamales, but al pastor tacos could be fine, for example?? Enlightenment requested.

            3 Replies
            1. re: alfairfax

              It changed hands again?

              Peruvians make tamales, but in general their cuisine is quite different from Mexican.

              1. re: alfairfax

                Well, the round beef tamale on the menu is specific to the original Roosevelt, it seems to have survived the changes in ownership.

                1. re: larochelle

                  They need to kill the beef tamale - get rid of it. Scrap the tamale menu -- start truly fresh. You carry over things that were great, that make sense. What they have currently doesn't make sense. Visually, that place has potential.

              2. The Chronicle said this place was re-tooling a few weeks ago with a new chef. Has anyone been there this month?