By Tom Hanchett
Anytime is a good time for tamales, but this Thursday is a red-letter day for Mexican tamales fans.
February 2 is Candlemas, also known as Candelaria in Spanish — the day in Catholic tradition when Jesus was first taken to the temple in Jerusalem. Families celebrate by lighting candles and there’s often a party.
“Back on January 6, the day the Wise Men came to Jesus, Mexican families share a rosca de reyes cake with a tiny Jesus doll inside. Whoever finds the doll has to help throw a party on February 2nd,” explains Maria Padrón, the young co-owner of Tamales La Pasadita. A wintertime party means lots of warm, comforting tamales.“That’s the culture. It comes from the generations.”
La Pasadita’s name has two meanings: “passing by,” or “grab and go.” Both are apt for its tiny, easy-to-pass-by location alongside the busy Plaza. The family initially rented the storefront just for its kitchen — prep space for their two “loncheria” food trucks that go to construction sites. Only after a year did they open the 1950s-retro dining room — three tables and a nine-stool counter — to on-site eaters.
Back in the kitchen, cook Elena Pascual makes tamales reflecting two Mexican traditions.
- Maria Padrón hails from San Luis Potosi in the north where corn husks are used to sheath tamales, which are made with masa — specially processed corn.
- Her husband Carlos Gaona comes from Veracruz in the south, where green plantain leaves serve as the wrappers, and the dough can incorporate pureed fresh-from-the-cob sweet corn.
In either style, choices of fillings include chicken, pork and salsa, or cheese and jalapeño.
Be sure to try the dulce — sweet — tamales. My favorite combines raisins and sweetened condensed milk to make a rich, comfort-food dessert.
Tamales La Pasadita
Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
3112 The Plaza (near 35th Street)
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 830 – 8189
Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico meets Greece – holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam @ Lyly’s
El Rinconcito — El Salvador
Arepas Grill — Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Laurita Tamaleria — Mexican tamales
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Taste Nigeria in east Charlotte
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews
Peruvian comfort food
Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
Greek pastry at Central Coffee
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Grits & cornmeal
Laos in Kings Mountain