Tamale master Juan Garcia, who has built a following through his Tamale Guy pop-ups at farmers markets and bars around the area, settles into a more permanent arrangement November 5, sharing space in Georgetown’s Equinox Studios with ice cream shop Sweet Bumpas.
Garcia will sell his impressive fresh tamales, by the dozen and individually, through the Sweet Bumpas walk-up window at 6564 5th Ave. S. The Tamale Guy menu will include options like pork belly, smoked chicken, and braised brisket, plus a vegan version using seasonal vegetables. Garcia is also adding two dessert options: a sweet maiz cookie and a maiz vanilla pudding with seasonal fruit compote.
It’ll all happen Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Customers can order in person or place an order online for pick-up.
The upgrade to a more permanent cooking and retail space has been a long time coming for Garcia, who is originally from Quincy, Washington. When he moved to Seattle in 2011, Garcia noticed the serious dearth of decent tamales, so he set about cornering that market. Garcia honed his skills in kitchens like Bastille, Toulouse Petit, and Stoneburner, learned his mother’s tamale recipe, and perfected his skills with his grandmother in Mexico.
From there, he became a favorite at bars and breweries, where he popped up in the early evening, just when patrons were starting to get hungry. And he continued building a following at farmers markets in Seattle and around Puget Sound.
Garcia says he’ll do some limited bar pop-ups this winter. The farmers markets are done for the season, but he’ll likely return to them in the spring.
“Special thanks to Seattle Eater for sharing my journey making tamales!” – Juan