The Tamale Store
Farmers’ markets are among the best proving grounds for culinary entrepreneurs, whether they’re testing out a new product or trying to reach untapped audiences across town.
One of our favorite local farmers’ market success stories is The Tamale Store, a family business operated by a group of sisters and their mother. It all began in 2009 at the outset of the recession, marketing manager Pauline Pimienta says. Her mother, Martha Castillo, had been running a catering business, taking homemade tamales to construction sites across the Valley. When new construction dried up, she brought her signature red chile beef tamale to the Downtown Phoenix farmers’ market.
Less than a decade later, they’ve successfully made the switch to a foodie clientele, selling more than a dozen flavors of tamales, from a spicy pork green chile to a rich chicken mole, along with numerous vegetarian and vegan options, including a Southwest veggie number stuffed with mushrooms, corn and spinach. The family sells them at 20 markets around the Valley and from the small storefront attached to their commercial kitchen in North Phoenix. In the fall, they plan to open a full-service restaurant.
The tamales ($5.99 for two, $20 for a half-dozen, $35 for a dozen) are ideal for a quick dinner, requiring no thawing and about 30 minutes of steaming. They can be found at Whole Foods, Sprouts and AJ’s Fine Foods across the Valley, and a full list of their farmers’ market appearances can be found on their website.
— Shelby Moore
The Tamale Store
13046 N. Cave Creek Rd., Phoenix
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