Roosevelt Tamale Parlor

15 01 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited: Two  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes please!

Wow. For so many reasons. Let’s quickly explore the wows about Roosevelt’s:

  1. It’s been around since 1919 (per their menu). Wow.
  2. Their tamales are really, really good. Wow.
  3. They do not have a website. Triple wow.

Maybe they’re the type of place that quote/unquote “doesn’t need” a website? Because they’re, like, an Establishment in San Francisco? Either way, I’m amazed. I understand that the taqueria down the street doesn’t have a website; they’re small, interchangeable with the next taqueria and most of their business is from people who are walking or working nearby. Fine. But this place is nice, well known and de-licious. Why not use the interwebs to market? I digress, I will need to stop being so surprised at some point.

Roosevelt has been firmly planted at 2817 24th Street in the Mission district of SF for, well, nearly 100 years according to their menu. It’s a small place on a strip of questionable shops and restaurants, but it’s worth the trip.

Roosevelt's Tamale Parlor

Inside Roosevelt's

Nicely decorated, kind service, great menu, and on weekends, a beautiful woman singing softly as she strums an acoustic guitar. What more could you ask? Well, you could ask for it to be closer to home and have a full liquor license, I suppose, but let’s not nitpick.

While they don’t have a full bar, they do beer, wine and they make a killer wine-based margarita that is surprisingly delicious, strong, and doesn’t really taste like wine. They have a huge food menu, but I didn’t get a good inventory to report; my bad.


Fish ceviche appetizer, also good.

What I do know is this: I have never really liked tamales very much. They’re covered in that corn husk, right? What’s that about? And then it’s just mush inside, usually with some sort of pork or something. No thanks. But since it’s a tamale parlor, you gotta try one, right? Yes, definitely. And you won’t be disappointed.


Roosevelt's Famous "Round" Tamale, cheese inside, rice and beans.

These tamales are rich and delicious: the tender corn paste — called masa — (already removed from the husk they use to cook it in) is wrapped around chicken, beef, pork, cheese, beans, or squash. Yeay for choices! They actually have a few different kinds of tamale, though I’m not sure what the difference is between their “Famous Round Tamale” and the rest of them. Some appear to be served in the husk (I didn’t have one of those) and they may have different sauces on top.


Squash tamale with tomatillo sauce and cheese.

The cheese tamale is fabulous. I don’t know what kind of cheese they use, but it’s the best. Ever. The squash tamale was good too, but the cheesey guy was top dog in my book. Rice, beans, chips, salsa — good. They know what they’re doing and they apparently don’t even need a website to prove it.

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4 responses

17 01 2011

If you don’t mind traveling for a tasty tamale, this outfit has the best vegetarian tamale I’ve had.

23 01 2011

Mmm… looks like they’ll be back at the Palo Alto market starting in May, yum! Maybe I’ll have to make the trip to try it out. Love that they have a website!! Thanks for the recommendation! :)

14 02 2011

Don’t wait until May! They are at 6 different Farmers’ Markets currently! and two markets that are seasonal.

They have a mobile food truck –

14 02 2011

Wow! Thanks for the info, Jim, we’ll have to try it out! :)

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