How could you not love this?
Meet Pepe, one of the owners of Tamalli Space Charros, which operates the Tamale Spaceship, serving the people of downtown Chicago delicious tamales five days a week.
One of the first things that drew me to Tamale Spaceship was these Mexican wrestling masks. It’s a great marketing technique that sets them apart from all the other food trucks in Chicago. Why not add a little bit of entertainment and intrigue to good food?
I’ve been trying to chase down Tamale Spaceship since I got back to Chicago about a month ago. I sent my best friends its way one of my first days back at work, but wasn’t able to visit it myself until yesterday.
I had a wonderful conversation with Pepe while I was getting my tamales. He’s a nice and sincere guy who was very happy to spend 10 minutes telling me about both the food and the business. And that’s one of the things I like the most about food trucks. Because most of these are small operations, there is a personal touch. You might as well as be at a block party trying out your neighbor’s signature dish or newest creation (except in that case the food may or may not be good).
I chose the Tamal a la Plaza, which had potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and (I believe, if I remember correctly) goat cheese. The tamales were warm, soft, hearty and delicious. The mix of starchy potato and chewy shiitake mushrooms provided just the right consistency and texture. The tamales weren’t quite savory enough for my taste but the sauce definitely helped it out. It was just the right kind of spiciness that hit the spot perfectly on a sunny day; I just wish there was more sauce. I would give it a 3.5/5, plus an extra arbitrary point for the masks. I also had a pineapple Jarritos, a delicious, Mexican fruit-flavored soda with real cane sugar that brought back memories of living in the sorority house. (Our chef Beatrice would serve us Jarritos every Cinco de Mayo as a special treat.)
The large tamales are $7 for two of the same flavor. (It has to be the same because the food has to be prepackaged per city ordinances.) Unlike many of the other food trucks in the city, no additional taxes are levied on top of this rather reasonable price. (Jarritos are $2.) The food is all packaged in tightly secured containers so you can enjoy it at your desks, in a park, or wherever you fancy.
So hit up Tamale Spaceship one of these days when you’re downtown. Follow them @tamaleship101 for the latest updates, and when you do get to the truck, have a chat with the guys and learn something about Mexican food history and culture while you’re at it. And if you’ve got a sense of whimsical humor like these guys, check out their photo story.