***7/10/05 UPDATE on Tamal HERE***
My biggest fear about Tamal was that it was going to suck. Thank God my fear was unfounded, because a) it's right near where I live, and b) the chef/owner (Moaya Scheiman)'s daughter is in one of my classes. And guess what? This place rocks. Phew.
Jon and I popped in and sat at the bar. The menu is fabulous. And everything costs between $5 and $12.50. Most of the ingredients are organic, free range, artisanal and bombastic. The wine list is equally well priced, with a great selection. This is one of the best bargains in town.
Tamal is at 12th and Howard, an up-and-coming neighborhood, which means the location is still a little tough for a restaurant. They're doing everything right, though, so let's all keep going there. The dining room is cozy and warm and it's the kind of place you could hang out in all night. It almost feels European (Why do Americans suck so much? Why don't we hang out in cafe's all night long?).
We had the tamal de camaron ($6), which has shrimp, wrapped with a butternut squash/thai curry/corn masa. I began referring to it as "my tamale" because I loved it so. Jon wasn't too happy about that as he wanted some too. Tough titty.
We also had the tacos de atun ($10.50). Ahi seared with cumin and pepper with a yummy veggie slaw in crispy tacos with jicama sticks. This dish is so fresh that I wanted to slap it.
We also had the tamal de puerco ($5): pork with a coconut/black bean masa. This was also mega yummy and were I not so enamored with the tamal de camaron, I would have stolen this from Jon, too. We also had a taste of the plantain soup which had habenero peppers. That made me do a happy dance.
The service was bammin' and I can't wait to go back. That $6 tamal de camaron is a damn cheap thrill. And you all know how I love cheap thrills.
"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld