Lady: Selling Tamales and making a difference
Violet Magazine Premiere issue Vol
1, Issue 1 Fall 2004...Written by Dave Carpenter
She is an icon among the late-night bar set, a godsend to the happy
hour crowd that routinely pushes through dinner with little more than
booze and bar nuts in their bellies. When Virginia arrives with her
plastic Igloos full of warm tamales, a hint of roasted pork, chicken,
and hot sauce in the air, people swarm to her. But it isn’t just
the tamales they crave. Equal to her warm, homespun food is the tenderness
and affection she proffers. She’ll tell a 300 pound bedraggled,
drunk, and aggressive biker nudging his way through the crowd, “You
don’t look good, honey. I think you drink too much tonight. You
better slow down.” And like a puppy you see him go docile. He’ll
likely give her a hug, have three chicken tamales, and turn in for the
night, without a fight. You see it in nearly every conversation she
has with her “people” as she prepares them tamales and verbally
tends to their wounds.
“Virginia just talks to you so straight,” says one female
bartender. “And you feel better. Oh, and her tamales are amazing.”
“The Tamale Lady,” says another longtime customer and friend,
“keeps all the freaks alive with home cooking and a good deal.
Pretty much that’s all we want, right, is a square deal in life...and
by God she provides it...."
Tamale Lady, underground hero in S.F. Fans to throw birthday bash for
Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, June 28, 2003
San Francisco -- It was a beer past happy
hour at Zeitgeist, a locus of Mission District cool, and more than 100
hipsters and Critical Massheads were on their feet cheering.
Standing at the back of the outdoor beer garden was
the object of the crowd's affection: a 49-year-old Mexican immigrant
known to late-nighters simply as the Tamale Lady.
Zeitgeist's jaded regulars don't get on their feet
too often. Marveled one long-timer who goes by the name Jose X: "The
last time that happened here was when some woman took off her top."
But they stood for Virginia Ramos, a.k.a.
the Tamale Lady, one of those transcendent characters that San Francisco
Over the past decade, Ramos has become an icon of the city on the order
of the fabled Brown twins. But while the prim identicals in matching
outfits prowl Union Square, the underground hero Ramos roams the working-class
environs of the Mission and the shirtless gay bars South of Market --
an itinerant chef who peddles her homemade feasts out of plastic coolers.
Food - Castro Theatre
November 10, 2003
October 13th, 2003
Maid Me Mad
March 2nd, 2003