The best and worst part about living in the most diverse Capital City in the country is that there are SO MANY incredible family-run restaurants to try out. I get stunned into indecision and decide not to venture far from my North Sacramento lair.
But thankfully for me, the ever-amazing Sacramento Yelp Elite Squad puts together amazing events that help me check restaurants off my must-try list. And Yolanda’s Tamales has been on that list for quite a while.
I have had many different kinds of tamales: Mexican, El Salvadoran, Puerto Rican pasteles, vegan, fresh from una tamalada, from a cooler in the back of a guy’s car, whatever. These little hand-wrapped bundles of love in corn husks or banana leaves get me every time.
But Yolanda’s is on another level. Fluffy, pillowy masa that has enough- but not too much- slickness to lick off your fingers. I tried both the puerco y pollo- pork and chicken. Both were in a delicious red sauce, but the sauce really sang with the chicken- which surprised me. I love me some pig. But Yolanda’s red sauce is so delicately spiced and seasoned. There are complex layers to the flavor that I would almost attribute to a mole, but it’s totally different. Both were good, but the pollo crowed.
Yolanda’s is also famous for her $1 Taco Tuesdays, so I picked up two chicken street tacos and two beef (asada) street tacos. Oh.My.Word. These tacos are STUFFED with delicious meat, onions, cilantro and very tasty salsa. My partner thought they were close to his heat limit, but I could have turned them up a notch or two. Either way, the asada tacos were the star here and I KNOW I’ll be back for Taco Tuesday.
In fact, I know I’ll be back. When I showed up today, they were having a rough day- even for COVID standards. There was no AC. The fryer was down. They were on TV this morning and were already out of carnitas and adobada. The joven taking orders told me he took a day off of school to help out because they were short-staffed. He told me his trials, his tribulations and dreams as I waited for my tamales and my tacos. I don’t know why he poured his heart out to me, but I tried my best to encourage him to stay on the straight and narrow. His Abuela and Tio were the ones on TV this morning.
When I got back to the other side of town, in a car smelling like heaven, I realized my tamales were not YoTamale style and the extra salsa I requested had been omitted. Pero, no pasa nada. I didn’t care. They were super busy on a rough day. The food I had was phenomenal. It was affordable, and you could tell that this tamale and taco empire is a family-wide labor of love.
So I tip my hat to Empress Abuela Yolanda. I know I will make the trek back to South Sac again and again and again to enjoy your amazing tamales and asada street tacos.
I can’t wait to try everything else on the menu! Check them out at their itty-bitty brick and mortar location or follow them on Facebook to catch their food trucks around town facebook.com/yotamales
Su estomago will thank you.